Last year we used the timely reminder of Black History Month as an incentive to really examine how inclusive we are and realised that we should be doing more to be a truly inclusive organisation and employer.
As a starting point we signed up to the first cohort of the I’M IN campaign and began the process of interrogating our organisational culture, practices, and communications. This was and still is an ongoing piece of work that has provoked difficult conversations and has often felt uncomfortable for us. Our staff and trustees are 100% committed to being part of the change, as opposed to the problem, in the orchestral and music sectors.
What else have we done to start to bring about change over the last year?
- We’ve set up a formal Diversity, Inclusion and Relevance Committee consisting of trustees and staff, which is tasked with ensuring we commit to best inclusive practice across all our work and holds the organisation to account accordingly.
- We’ve become members of the Fair Access Principles and Black Lives in Music. We chose to sign up to these in recognition of the work we still need to do in these areas, and to access specialist knowledge and guidance to support us.
- We launched our Tea break film series which features interviews with a range of different voices/experiences to provoke and challenge both us and our audiences. We’ve spoken to Roger Wilson from Black Lives in Music about inclusive music, Grace Utting, an OAE Young Artist, about accessible orchestras, and young musicians from our Share Sound project, about their experiences of engaging with music, among others.
- We’ve created new experiences such as our Share Sound project; an inclusive, online approach to youth ensembles for young people across England, as well as worked with a diverse set of Associate Music Leaders.
- We’ve continued our Regenerate Series, online conversations designed to explore new ideas that challenge the sector’s thinking and help create positive change for the communities we engage with. Our last event featured a panel of young people who challenged the sector to be more creative and inclusive in engaging with them.
- We revised our Partnership Principles to give greater emphasis and clarity to our expectations of partners in the areas of diversity and inclusion.
We are committed to making more tangible progress over the next year. We’ll continue working with our audiences, partners and organisations such as Black Lives in Music, to educate, inform and guide our progress. We’ll also remain transparent about how we are doing, what we’re learning and what we need to do better.
Creating a formal Diversity, Inclusion and Relevance Committee ensures we hold ourselves to account and I'm looking forward to getting stuck in. This is an opportunity for us to think differently about both our operations and our recruitment, and I want us to be bold in trying new initiatives to ensure Orchestras Live as an organisation becomes more representative of the people we serve. Diversity has been integral to our mission for a long time, and now we are really committing to delivering ambitious and lasting change on this front.
~ Rebecca Saunders, Trustee and Chair of the Diversity, Inclusion and Relevance Committee
Our strategic vision is that inclusivity and diversity characterise all the work that we do at Orchestras Live. We have made an encouraging start, but recognise how much further we have to go in our practical arrangements, our work with partners and our own attitudes. But to achieve this will be hugely worthwhile.
~ Tony Stoller, Chair of Trustees