This year’s Regenerate series looks at the topic of Civic Purpose and our second panel event of 2021 explored what the post-COVID era might look like for the sector.
Our panellists - Amina Hussain, principal flute at Manchester Camerata, Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, CEO at UK Music, and Dougie Scarfe, CEO at Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra – all brought perspectives from across the music sector and shared both their personal and professional learnings from the last year, exploring whether we should be returning to the pre-Covid status quo or be looking to make substantial changes.
One of my hopes is that people will value music much more than before as they've realised what a world without that looks like.
~ Jamie Njoku-Goodwin
Here are some of the key themes and takeaways from the discussion:
- The role of civic purpose has had a much stronger focus over the last year. Orchestras have worked hard to make sure they can still reach their audiences.
- There is a massive desire for real-time live experiences, and we have seen that with events being actually live whilst streamed there is a shared experience, even if you are at home.
- There are large numbers of people who do not have access to digital streaming and who have not been able to engage with orchestras this year. Moving everything online is going to further exclude these people without access, who need not to be lost when orchestras are planning for the future.
- Creativity cannot be automated and creative jobs are where the high value automation-resistant jobs are going to be in the future. In spite of this, the creative industries are not a strategic priority for policy makers, as is evidenced by cuts to arts funding in higher education.
- As we come out of the pandemic the focus will be on the long-lasting impact on mental health and education. These are two spaces where we as a sector have a lot of opportunities to play a positive role.
Enforced change is rarely a welcome experience but adaptability has been key. The impact of this for me has led to a much greater level of understanding of the work we do and the impact that it has directly.
~ Amina Hussain
- It is up to us to champion the live concert experience and use digital to enhance, deepen and broaden the in-person relationship and if we can do that, then we can actually come out of lockdown stronger.
- Performances in empty spaces do not provide joy or satisfaction to performers. Will this style of working ever be sufficient?
- The digital space suddenly means that orchestras are now competing with other ensembles across the world. But this also means that, if they are digitally savvy, their audience base can be in the billions.
- As a sector we need to more actively demonstrate the enormous breadth of the work we do that affects people positively. This should include advocating to the government the economic value as well as positive outcomes for people that our sector brings.
I simply think that we have not changed fast enough as a sector, I really do. Therefore, if one good thing can come out of the pandemic to inspire the change we need to make and do it faster, then I would be particularly in favour of it.
~ Dougie Scarfe
The next Regenerate events in the series will look at Civic Purpose: Inclusion and representation on Thursday 30 September.
If you were unable to attend the May event and would like to view the recording, please email us and we will share this with you.
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