Who are Punch Records?
Punch Records is one of the UK’s leading music and arts agencies, based in Birmingham with a national reach.
Committed to working with Black music, arts and culture, the agency’s mission is achieved through four central ‘pillars’: Creating, Touring, Programming and Educating by way of award-winning tours, festivals, international projects and innovative development programmes for young people.
How Punch Records began
‘Punch Records’ was founded in the Perry Barr area of Birmingham in 1997 by Ammo Talwar MBE.
The agency began as an Black music record store, and quickly became a major hub for artists and DJ culture, pioneering sales for vinyl and mixtapes of various genres such as UK Garage – tapes like Sun City, La cos Nostra and Harmony were very popular in the late 90’s
In its early days, Punch hosted legendary DJ competitions in the region and organised large scale events. This led to working with major labels including Def Jam, Bad Boy, Island and Rawkus supporting global artists in UK campaigns.
At this time Punch was also a pioneer in the UK Garage scene, hosting regular events at Birmingham’s legendary Que Club.
In 2002, the success of the record store led Punch to relocate to Birmingham’s Creative Quarter, the Custard Factory complex in Digbeth; and following on from its early success, Punch began to host events for young people as part of what would grow into Punch’s famed outreach programme to develop talent within the city.
The evolution of Punch Records
Today, Punch continues to produce groundbreaking events and develop talent within Birmingham and further afield, working towards the 2022 Commonwealth Games and beyond.
Among their major recent highlights, Punch Records has been collaborating with Chicago-based After School Matters to reboot Gallery 37 in the West Midlands; which has led to them supporting and developing 150+ artists and counting since 2016
They also have a strong focus on celebrating black music and art with their yearly BASS Festival, which began in 2006 and continues to this day.
BASS (British Arts and Street Sounds) is the UK’s only month long celebration of Black Music and Art. Every year, it comes alive with a phenomenal line up of events, new commissions, gigs, exhibitions, master classes, showcases, club nights, theatre, conferences and film.
Other milestones for Punch Records have been creating the world’s first dedicated Bhangra book and touring exhibition, which went onto host in over 75 venues in global cities from London to New York; and also producing Jamaica Live which celebrated the Jamaican team at the London 2012 Olympics with 30,000+ people in attendance.
Current focus for Punch Records
Punch Records – or simply “Punch” – is the UK’s leading creative development agency for young people from diverse backgrounds, especially those working outside the mainstream.
In 2018, Punch worked closely with over 150 young musicians, filmmakers, artists and writers to sharpen their talents and build sustainable careers. Punch can do this thanks to our backing from leading UK industry investors, including the PRS Foundation, Help Musicians UK, Arts Council England, Arts Connect, the British Phonographic Industry, the British Council and the British Film Institute.
Punch is a lead partner in a range of game-changing initiatives including Music Potential and a key delivery partner of the Chicago-inspired Gallery 37, which has was initiated, run and developed in the West Midlands by Birmingham City Council since 1998 and, more recently, helmed by Saathi House since 2019.
Their own programmes, including BACK IN, Next Level, Move On Up, Desi Moves and The Lowdown have won a range of awards for innovation and diversity. If you are ready to move to the next level, or to back the UK’s creative future with your expertise and resources; the PUNCH team are listening.
Primary purpose and goals
VISION: Transforming lives through music
At the heart of Punch Records is the drive to support cutting edge, experimental and credible work which celebrates the wealth of talent found within the West Midlands and UK – particularly in the creative industries with young people.
Punch’s Mission is to champion excellence, diversity and innovation, committing their resources to:
- Positioning Black arts as an industry that will make meaningful and measurable contributions through events, tours, produced & commissioned work.
- Initiate and deliver learning opportunities and artistic endeavours that have a practical impact – e.g. job creation, skills development.
- Become a leader and ideas-led organisation that champion partnerships between culture, tourism, learning, engagement and music
Who’s behind Punch Records?
From the early days of Punch, to becoming the UK’s leading Music and Arts agency – the hard work and collaboration of performers, artists, musicians and creatives has been inspiring and key to its development.
Punch Records was founded by and is managed by Ammo Talwar. He has become a recognised arts champion, pioneering work with young people and artists nationally.
Ammo’s drive to promote young people as champions has led to major interventions within government agencies, schools and the third sector. Ammo is the current chair of Black Routes – a national touring network for contemporary music, the governor of Birmingham Ormiston Academy and the director of Creative Alliance.
In 2008, Ammo Talwar was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Honours list for his contribution to music and young people in the West Midlands.
To find out more about Punch Records, visit their official website here.