With Villeneuvois Sébastien Bénazet, music as an educational tool in Toulouse

Born in Rodez in 1984, but having grown up in Villeneuve, he created Topophone ten years ago, an association which provides access to music for young people in priority neighborhoods of the Ville Rose.

Link sport and social“. Sébastien Bénazet wrote this formula in capital letters above his bed, his desk and on the mirror of his bathroom. Born in Rodez, in 1984, he grew up in Villeneuve, where his parents, from Aveyron by adoption, settled down, after tasting Sébazac-Concourès, a first time in Villeneuve, in Villefranche-de-Rouergue, and finally in Villeneuve again, where they still live today. ES (“He was the one who provided me with the most generalist background“) at the Raymond-Savignac high school in the Pearl of Rouergue, he chose Toulouse and the faculty of economics and management at L’Arsenal, before a master’s degree in sports management.

He did an internship with Rebonds, an association for education and integration through rugby in the difficult neighborhoods of the Ville Rose. “I was in charge, in particular, of the administration and the financing requests, he remembers. It gave me skills“. Sébastien Bénazet’s passion was music. Playing it, “some drums and guitar“, but above all listen to it, “both rock and hip hop“. He decided to make it his daily life, swapping, in his magic formula, sport for musical culture.

With his Villefranchois friend Mickaël Gares, an environmental educator, he gave birth to Topophone in 2012. “Music is an educational tool and this observation was the starting point, admittedly a little broad, of our association, he explains. Listening and practice are incredible vectors“. Based at 250 avenue de Muret in Toulouse, Topophone has worn several hats over the years: actor of artistic and cultural education, artist developer, concert producer, organizer of cultural and educational events, and even of a festival called Ellipse since 2017.”We searched a bit, concedes the founder, a volunteer at the start of the adventure. But, globally, young people have always been our target“.

Director of a team of ten employees

Today, “99% of the project“of association is popular education”with access to music and its practice” in the priority neighborhoods of Toulouse, from Grand Mirail to Empalot, from Minimes to Borderouge. In the meantime, Mickaël Gares took another direction, to become… winegrower in Verdier, in the Tarn, north of Gaillac. And, d t a doublet of voluntary creators, the team has grown to ten employees, of which Sébastien Bénazet is the director.

The action of the association has been centered for several years above all on the territories because its DNA is to go, as a priority, towards those who have the least access to culture, insists the Villeneuvois. Putting the creative tool in the hands of all young people, so that they can all seize it and become musicians, that is the essence of our daily mission. It means accompanying young people to concerts, outings, getting them to compose, go on stage, record, meet artists and be by their side throughout their project.“.

The figures speak for Topophone: each year, the association reaches 3,000 young participants, with 55 musical workshops, 30 performances for young audiences, or even 80 young people accompanied in musical practice. This is part of the various programs it carries: the young musician course, the “Students on stage!” festival, internships and stays, or the European center for which it benefits from the European Solidarity Corps label. “To enrich themselves, 18-25 year olds visited identical structures in Finland, Estonia and also in Slovenia, rejoices Sébastien Bénazet. We also hosted ambassadors from Spain and Macedonia“. Topophone’s annual budget is €400,000 and the association benefits from public funding.

A beautiful tribute to Oc’Live in Rodez

She intervenes in schools, colleges, high schools, “with a fleet of instruments dedicated to raising awareness, in a very fun way“The teachers therefore make the trip with bells, xylophones…”This device is a great facilitator, but also a springboard for all those who want to pursue the practice of music, emphasizes Sébastien Bénazet. I am happy with the meaning that we put into actions every day and also very proud of the trajectory of the association.“. With festivities for the ten candles?”Not at the moment !“, he slips.

Despite busy dayswith a share of sacrifices that must be accepted” (“I am lucky to be well surrounded“), Sébastien Bénazet does “don’t miss an opportunity" to return home. "JI come back, indeed, very regularly because I have my family and many friends in Aveyron, he willingly confirms. It’s an anchor point“. During his stays, he “takes pleasure“to make a detour to Le Club in Rodez.”Oc’Live played an important role in the birth of Topophone and its director Fred Joao has been both a resource person and a faithful friend for ten years.“, he concludes.

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With Villeneuvois Sébastien Bénazet, music as an educational tool in Toulouse

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