$22M in funding for 2-year initiative.

Pop stars, artist managers, members of parliament and executives from the upper echelon of the U.K. music industry gathered at the headquarters of EMI Group last night (June 19) for the launch of a multi-million pound creative industries initiative.

Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, Gorillaz and Blur frontman Damon Albarn, and Tessa Jowell, member of parliament, secretary of state for Culture, Media and Sport, were among the guests and speakers at the cocktail function to kick-start the national Cultural Leadership Program.

The British government has earmarked £12 million ($22 million) for the scheme, which is intended to help nurture the next generation of leaders in the music industry and across the cultural sector.

Over the course of the next two years, the collaboration intends to develop leadership from the arts community which is "dynamic, diverse and genuinely world-class."

Speaking at the launch event, EMI Group chairman Eric Nicoli said, "Just as we invest heavily in technology, infrastructure and developing our artists and their music, it's also vital that we invest in our people."

Funding will be delivered through a partnership of Arts Council England, Creative & Cultural Skills (Sector Skills England) and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).

The program, explained Jowell, will "encourage leaders from a wide range of backgrounds to reflect the diversity that has made Britain a cultural powerhouse." She added, "to maintain this position, we must continue to invest in the people who will be its future."

From 2006 to 2008, organizers envision that roughly 2,000 workers in Britain's creative community will benefit from leadership development opportunities as a result of the project.

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