Classically Yours set out to engage new audiences by addressing the inequalities of opportunity to access high quality live orchestral music in the East Riding of Yorkshire – a monocultural area characterised by dispersed communities, limited public transport and minimal cultural infrastructure, with cultural engagement rates in the lowest third nationally (ACE Active Lives survey 2018). The programme constituted East Riding Council’s contribution to Hull UK City of Culture 2017. The project brought together two orchestras to work collaboratively on a varied programme and create an orchestral ecology to secure in a critical mass of audiences for the long term. The target audience was young people, families, older people, people with disabilities and voluntary music-making groups living in isolated coastal and rural areas where communities’ aspirations have been undermined by lack of opportunity and a belief that culture happens elsewhere.
We are delighted that Classically Yours won the 2018 RPS (Royal Philharmonic Society) Music Award in the Audiences and Engagement category – read more here.
An interconnected programme of participatory and concert activities was devised in consultation with local music organisations whose input shaped the programme and was crucial to the success of Classically Yours. Participants included older people in care homes, community and school choirs, pre-school children, a learning disability theatre group and the County Youth Orchestra; engagement ranged from regular creative workshops to performance opportunities.
Public concerts took place in small to mid-scale venues, often first time orchestral music promoters but chosen for their familiarity to local people. Classically Yours developed their skills and expertise through testing new concert formats, involving audiences in programming and promoting a varied orchestral series.
The impact has been significant in reaching new audiences across the County, revealing a large latent demand for orchestral music particularly amongst families with younger children. In Withernsea, a small coastal community with a population of 6,000, with no track record of concert-going, audience numbers have exceeded the modest forecasts. Bridlington Spa ‘Noisy Kids’ RPO concert – 25% of the audience were new to the venue and classical music. The upward trend has continued into 2018: Bridlington Spa’s New Year concert audience included 50 first time attenders at an orchestral concert or any event in that venue; Pocklington Arts Centre cite a direct correlation between Classically Yours involvement of communities and their growing concert audience.
That was brilliant. Would like more of this local to Withernsea. Inclusion of the primary school class was a lovely touch.
East Riding’s previous maximum two concerts a year has grown to a varied series of orchestral concerts and residencies and from two main venues to a county-wide network of venues hosting orchestral music.
Feedback has indicated positive impact on communities’ social cohesion and artistic ambition.
Thank you for letting my music makers be part of this amazing project. It has rekindled my desire to get music out to communities and made me realise that what I do in my corner of the county is valuable and essential in bringing people together.
The whole thing has been amazing and I feel completely honoured to have been part of it – to think that you included us and wanted us (as well as the other groups) to belong in your world!!
Partners, performers and venues
Orchestras Live, East Riding of Yorkshire Council (Arts, Community and Public Health), East Riding Music Education Hub, ReMarkable Arts, Manchester Camerata, Sinfonia Viva, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, James Redwood, Richard Taylor, Tim Steiner, Bridlington Spa, Toll Gavel Church Beverley, Meridian Centre Withernsea, Pocklington Arts Centre, Arts Council England, Foyle Foundation.
Find out more
Classically Yours Facebook page
Classically Yours Twitter
Classically Yours announcement
At Home project work
Article in Classical Music Magazine
If you would like to know more about Classically Yours and future developments for this project, get in touch here.