Small Acts Are Radical

On 11 July, 2017, Orchestras Live held a roundtable discussion to explore how inclusive orchestral performances impact on developing new audiences in the long term.

        Adam Wright in discussion with Sarah Derbyshire

Delegates from orchestras, venues, funders, music leaders, theatres, music outreach organisations and charities gathered to hear presentations from Chair and musician in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Adam Wright, Hollie Coxon, Director of Creative Learning at Sunderland Empire, and the Orchestras Live team who shared interim findings from Sound Around: a project that enabled target groups to engage with a creative process, and one of the exciting developments in the industry that drives long term audience development.

Sarah Bedell, independent project evaluator of Sound Around said “A game-changing approach to live classical music performance…Sound Around allows the orchestra to explore and experiment with different forms of what a performance might be, how players interact, behave and even what they wear.”

Adam Wright, Chairman and musician from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra said “This project was particularly special just because it went that much further, it really, really pushed us. The variety and diversity of the audiences made us think differently, and work differently, even more so than what we’re used to.”

Delegates discussed the role of musicians in creative engagement with audiences, development of their own practice, and driving organisational change. Sarah Derbyshire, MBE, Chief Executive Orchestras Live said “Further success in securing audiences of the future depends on everyone in the sector committing to action and that collaboration enables us to widen the impact of individual initiatives.”

The group committed to working together to challenge assumptions and expectations of current audiences, and potential new audiences, and create new pathways into orchestral experiences.

Each presentation prefaced a focused discussion, during which we identified progress which can be shared across the orchestral sector. We debated the future consumption of culture and articulated  the need for varied formats and styles of presentation of orchestral music, not only for audience development but to diversify income and extend brand value.

Individual commitments to create small radical acts included:

  • Venues that had not yet promoted relaxed, inclusive performances now plan to do so. 
  • Orchestras already engaged in this work will liaise with planners to ensure that these are not one-off events but programmed for future years. 
  • Orchestras Live will present clear evidence of the benefits and impact of inclusive orchestral performances, supporting the business case. 
  • Sound Around’s final report will include a toolkit to support orchestras, venues and promoters wanting to develop inclusive work and build new audiences. 
  • As a group, we will continue to lobby within and outside the industry for the importance of inclusive performances; and we will continue to support each other through networking and information sharing on a regular basis. 

If you would like to join this ambition, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us at Orchestras Live.