Tom Smith

MAP Charity offers creative educational experiences to young people at risk of exclusion from the mainstream school system. Co-founder and Project Director Tom Smith set up the charity over a decade ago, alongside infamous club night with a social mission – Cosmic Slop

An advocate for the use of arts education to create positive social change - we caught up with Tom to discuss Leeds’ musical scene, the development of Hope Foundry and MAP Charity’s vision for the future.

What prompted you to start MAP Charity in 2007? How did you identify the need for this particular work?

Before MAP I was working with young people in Leeds who were having difficulty accessing education - we were doing music production courses and online radio, trying to inspire kids to get back to school.

Separately, we wanted to find a way to put on music events that have social benefit, so using them to support education programs for young people was a natural progression.

How have you seen the charity develop over the past decade?

It’s developed in so many different areas from education programmes, to putting on top quality music and arts events, and providing workshop space for a range of creative activities - which is all really exciting to have under one roof.

Tell us a little bit more about the sound system you built and the subsequent Cosmic Slop events

It was inspired by systems from New York in the late 70s - I was lucky enough to get some tutoring from folks in NYC which started through a forum called wave music. Scott Fitlin was the man for this and he’s sadly no longer with us, his passion was so inspiring, I’m so grateful for his support.

The Cosmic Slop events have been an amazing thing to be involved with. So much support from local people, students and artists on an international level. It’s been an opportunity to use the music we love so much to have a real social impact, to raise money and provide education and community benefit.

What do you think of the musical community and musical scene in Leeds?

It’s a beautiful place for this, but to me it seems that it’s a form of culture that does not get the support it needs.

What prompted you to stay here rather than move to say London after graduation?

When I was younger I stayed mostly because of the music community mentioned in the last question. Later on, as soon as I decided on setting up an arts organisation it had to be in Leeds - charity begins at home and all that.

MAP has attracted support from much of the Leeds community, including students, artists and local residents. What do you attribute to its wide supporter base?

People recognise the value in what we’re doing, helping give young people creative opportunities who may not otherwise get them. It’s been amazing seeing the level of support from a wide community, and we regularly have university students, artists, other professionals and even ex-students wanting to help out with the project. The sound system has also attracted real support from the music community which has grown around Cosmic Slop - with some big name DJs wanting to play on the system to help the charity too.

Can you tell us a little bit more about the various collaboration’s MAP has with other organisations and artists across the city?

We’re well connected with education institutions like LCoM, Leeds Arts University, Leeds Beckett, and the University of Leeds. Students can volunteer and do placements which is beneficial for them and also inspires our students to consider different pathways. Neighbouring art organizations like East Street Arts have been really supportive too as we’ve developed. Since launching a campaign to safeguard the future of the charity so many people have got in touch to offer skills and support and also to run fundraisers for us which is beautiful to see.

How important is it for work to be carried out with those who are disenfranchised with mainstream education?

It’s vital that all young people have access to education. Art and music are a powerful tool in inspiring and re-engaging. Creative subjects aren’t prioritised in mainstream schools so some young people aren’t being given opportunities to express themselves creatively. MAP uses art and music as a way to show young people their own worth, give them belief and hope and ultimately get them back into school and applying to college. At MAP we also have different partnering businesses in screen printing, design, filmmaking, who can give real life training and inspiration too.

What projects or plans does MAP Charity have for the future?

In the future we hope to buy and transform the building in Mabgate that’s been our home for 10 years - Hope Foundry. We want to expand our education project to work with more kids, but also open up the rest of the building for more creative facilities, workspaces and public spaces too. This includes new event spaces, a cafe and retail space as well as kitchen and roof gardens.

We’ve got a really inspiring vision and some incredible support so far!


Learn more about the work of MAP Charity or to support their vision – click here.

Alternatively, like Cosmic Slop Events on Facebook.

Discover more about our BA (Hons) in Music (Production) – here.

Or join our alumni networking portal at

Even though we can't meet you in person, we can still show you around the conservatoire and answer all your questio…
UoH-Logo.png (2) tef small.png QAA logo Conservatoires UK logo Partner_1.png AEC logo Roland logo prs-keychange-logo_red-blue_pantone-c (fine to use).png Luminate_Education_Group_Logo (small).png