Developing Leaders, Igniting Change….

We at the Advance Network are enjoying spring and we are also looking forward to our next event at the Royal Academy of Music on Tuesday, April 22nd.

The Royal Academy of Music are hosting The Advance Networks Action Research Lab.
The Lab is part of a programme of professional development that will support a network of committed individuals to make the changes that will enhance their leadership, their organisation and the sector by Taking Action on increasing diversity. This bespoke workshop will include:
  • Share current projects or new ideas around policy, practice, organisational change with a specially convened small group workshop.
  • Receive helpful feedback on your idea from the group.
  • Apply for 1:1 strategic overview and 3 consultancy support sessions between 2014 – 2015.
  • Network with like minded individuals.
If you are leading a project/activity or plan to do so soon, that has a specific focus on increasing diversity and reducing barriers,please do contact us before April 18th (this Friday). We will then send you more details. This workshop is tailored to meet the needs of participants so numbers are limited.

Enjoy the spring holidays…



Diversity News from the UK and the US

Whilst we are engaged in bringing together inspiring and thoughtful leaders from organisations into the Advance Network’s year long leadership journey we thought we would send you a round up of news from the UK and America.

Lenny Henry spoke eloquently for BAFTA about the lack of BAME representation, on and behind the screen, in Film and TV.He cited a number of statistics that indicate the decline of BAME representation, despite a number of organisations creating BAME training and mentoring schemes to “break through the glass ceiling”.

The beginning of 2014 was influential for diversity discussions. As you may know, in London, we had our phase 2 launch, and, across the pond, in Detroit, USA there was a month long convention, SphinxCon.This convention encourages community art leaders to come together from all over the US and empower each other to understand and promote diversity.

Back in the UK, London Music Master’s are holding a discussion on: “Class, Race and Classical Music” on Wednesday 9th April.

Candace Allen, one of our first speakers at the Advance Network, joining her is up and coming violinist Tai Murray for a fascinating exploration of race, class and classical music.


There are still tickets available so we look forward to seeing some of you there too!

From Film to Football, Change is Called For. . .

The recent controversy surrounding Sol Campbell’s views on barriers he encountered in his footballing career shows that race and equality are still hotly contested topics.

Yet, when Steve McQueen became the first black director to win an Oscar this breakthrough seemed to be universally applauded. There is a feeling that everyone wins when someone from an unrepresented background breaks the glass ceiling.

Music education is not exempt from this debate, of course, and the Advance Network has given a call to action for those of us who wish to see that ALL young people; in particular African, Caribbean, Indian, Pakistani, Bengali, Turkish, Latin American, etc are represented at ALL levels in ALL genres of music education.

We are delighted that our call to action is being heard. We are welcoming the following organisations to the action learning sets:

National Children’s Orchestra . . . Sound Connections . . . Hackney Music Service and a selection of other music hubs . . .Future Talent . . . Musicians Union . . .and more . . . 

Be part of this unique opportunity for change.

We would still like to receive YOUR applications for action. In particular please contact us if you would like to be part of a dynamic set that will look specifically at diversity in working with 16-25 year olds and working in the context of music hubs.


We look forward to welcoming you but get your application in quickly as the closing date is 14th March.

(Photographs courtesy of The Guardian and The Telegraph)

‘Taking Action’

“Never underestimate the power a committed group of individuals has to create change, in fact it’s the only thing that ever has” Margaret Mead

On Monday 10th February we had a focused and fascinating gathering in City Hall at     The Advance Network, phase 2 ‘Taking Action’ Launch.

‘Taking Action’ considers ways in which we can work together as a classical/jazz music sector to take action in relation to diversity and to share effective practice.

We began with a beautiful and moving performance from surprise guest, MOBO nominee and Kuumba Youth Music mentor,

Ayanna Witter Johnson


Paul Broadhurst, our host from Greater London Authority, formally welcomed us and gave an update on the work that GLA are doing to support young musicians.

Surya Turner gave an overview of The Advance Network activities to date and shared her vision of ‘Taking Action’ phase 2. (Watch it here)


Following this we enjoyed presentations from:
Adam Jeanes, Senior Relationship Manager at the Arts Council England, revealed his insights and recent experiences of the fast changing world of music education. (watch it here)


Graham Welch, Chair of Music Education at the Institute of Education, with Beverley Mason from Medar Pysden International introduced the Advance Network phase 1 research and updated us on some of the emerging themes in looking at barriers and effective practice in ensemble music making. (watch it here)


Ruth Cook, Managing Director of Action Learning Associates spoke enthusiastically about how action learning is used to effect change. (watch it here)


Sean Gregory, Director of Creative Learning at Barbican & Guildhall, shared his own leadership journey, the tools he has used to encourage change and his views on diversity in the sector today. (watch it here)


After the presentations, delegates formed into themed small groups. Some robust and focused solutions to barriers in the classical and jazz sector were made in a relatively small amount of time. (watch it here)

Finally we shared how delegates can be involved with the professional/organisational development opportunities that form part of The Advance Network phase 2.

We would love for you to be part of this community of ‘thoughtful individuals’ who are looking to make a positive difference and grow in the process.

There are 3 ways you can join in and be involved:

1)    Action Learning

‘Action learning is a process which involves working on real challenges, using the knowledge and skills of a small group of people combined with skilled questioning, to re-interpret old and familiar concepts and produce fresh ideas.’ Action learning Associates

There are still some places left to join an action learning set that will be exploring barriers and effective practices in working with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic musicians and families.

We are particularly interested in involving individuals whose work is primarily in music hubs and/or in classical and jazz organisations which work with 16-25 year olds across these musical genres.

If you are interested and need more information drop us a line here.

If you know you want to get involved Apply Here.

We are looking forward to welcoming you…

2)    Action Research

We will also be running a small bespoke workshop. If you have a specific project that you would like to develop or are currently working on, we would like to help. This workshop will give you an opportunity to share your ideas and receive instant feedback.

We will then be working closely with 3 projects, chosen from the workshop, over the course of the year who will share their learning with the wider Advance Network community.

If you want to be invited express your interest HERE and we will send you an invitation.

Alternatively, if you would like to have a conversation with Surya Turner or one of The Advance Network Leadership team about whether either activity is right for you or your organisation please do let us know and we can set up a short call.

3)    Research and our Blog

We will be continuing with our research from phase 1 and would love your input on our blog.

If you have any projects or stories that we can share on our blog around diversity in music we would love to hear from you, so do get in contact with us if you would like to be featured.

We are looking forward to working with you.

Committed to changing the landscape of the classical and jazz sector

There has been a hive of activity as we enter the final stages of preparation for The Advance Network, phase 2 launch ‘Taking Action’ at the London Living Room, City Hall, February 10th 2014 at 1.30pm.

Many of you attended one of our phase 1 events in 2013, held at some of London’s best venues: City Hall, Southbank Centre and the Royal Academy of Music. We are looking forward to seeing you again.

Book Here Now

In case you missed phase 1 last year…

What is The Advance Network?

We are a gathering of freelance musicians, music leaders, policy makers, parents, young musicians, educators and change agents. The Advance Network was initiated by Kuumba Youth Music, Tomorrows Warriors and Royal Academy of Music, 3 very different organisations sharing a common commitment to creating greater ethnic diversity in the classical and jazz sector. This network has expanded and now includes other organisations who have partnered with us to produce some great events, including; Barbican – Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Sound Connections, Greater London Authority, Southbank Centre, Milapfest, Rambert Dance Company, Spitalfields Music, Association of British Orchestras, The Institute of Education and Action Learning Associates to name a few.

What Do We Do?

Increase understanding…gain knowledge…TAKE ACTION!

We have had great debates, stimulating discussions and provoking presentations from a number of speakers in phase 1. Through this we came to understand the:

  • Barriers BAME communities face in engaging with ensemble music making and reaching excellence in the classical/ jazz sector.

  • Effective practices for overcoming these barriers and nurturing excellence in diverse communities.

  • Ways authentic engagement with diverse groups drives artistic excellence.

On February 10th our speakers will be addressing:

  • Diversity: The political and funding landscape: where are we and what’s next on the horizon?

  • A review of barriers and effective practice in engaging BAME communities in ensemble music making

  • What it takes to bring about change from within an organisation?

  • What leadership qualities are required for an individual to make change happen?


  • We will be launching a programme of professional development and action research that offers a comprehensive approach to meet both the organisational and personal development needs of leaders exploring change in the diversity arena.

Who Are These Events For?

  • Leaders who are actively engaged in developing  programmes that are aiming to reach more diverse communities.

  • Music leaders who want to embed a more culturally inclusive approach in their organisations/contexts they work in.

  • Freelance music professionals working within diverse communities who want to reflect on their own practice in developing talent.

  • Cultural Leaders, community activities, change agents interested in creating greater diversity within the cultural sector generally.

  • Policy makers, independent consultants and board members  who want to develop robust strategic approach to  change.

And Always A Bit Of The Unknown Too…

Of course there will be fantastic networking opportunities where connections, collaborations, and new ideas spark.

Book Here Now

Or if you want to know more email us at:

See you there…

Meeting In Large Numbers…Mark Pemberton on The Association of British Orchestras Conference 2014

It’s one week to go to the ABO Conference, and the ABO team is in lock-down getting everything ready for its biggest event of the year, bringing up to 400 delegates from the classical music industry across the UK and from as far afield as Brazil and Japan.

One key strand of this year’s conference will focus on music education. It’s a rapidly changing landscape, and we want to have a close look at how well the new music education hubs are doing, and what the future will look like beyond 31 March 2015, when the current round of funding runs out. And one important session will look at youth ensembles.

While the hubs are meant to provide every child with “the opportunity to perform as part of
an ensemble and to take their talent further”, we want to see if this is happening in practice, especially as local authorities continue to cut back on their investment in the hubs.We want to look at whether this is impacting on intake into our national youth ensembles, and what initiatives there are out there that provide a different model for providing opportunities for young musicians from disadvantaged or diverse communities to develop their talent.

And this is where Kuumba Youth Music comes in.

We have been hugely impressed by Surya and her colleagues from partner organisations’ drive to open up the debate on equality of access to high quality classical music education for our increasingly diverse population, and have been delighted to work in partnership with her on the Advance Network. We are looking forward to her participation in the ABO Conference, and I am sure that what she has to say will be of huge interest to our delegates. For further information visit:

“The end of learning is not knowledge but action”

A General Consensus

It was generally agreed, during phase 1, that there needed to be more representation of diverse communities within both classical and jazz sectors, to improve equality of access and progression in music education and for the vitality of the sector as whole. Nothing too contentious there perhaps. See Ed Vaisey, Minister for Culture, who is probing the subject of diversity this month too:

But what steps need to be taken to create greater representation in all areas of the sector?Here the debate was both fascinating and challenging. To find the answers we needed to go back to understand what the specific barriers are which provided a great starting off point for phase 1 launch event in City Hall last year.

Approaches to Change

As we progressed with the debate and looked into what creates change some participants advocated dramatic action now: ‘are we really going to have the same debate in another 20 years time?’

Others favoured a more gradual and organic approach; arguing that small steps make a significant difference over time, so some patience is needed.

What was apparent through the networking events and our research was that, for a number of organisations, the theme of diversity was already high on their agenda. Through an interesting combination of desire and external pressure to change, various attempts were already being made to take the action that should make an impact.

Phase 2 launch Event

We will be sharing our phase 1 research findings, conducted by Beverley Mason, In ‘Taking Action’, as well as addressing the wider context in music education. The research also explored these fundamental questions:

  • What are the specific barriers that minority groups face when engaged in western and non-western classical music?

  • What are the good models of practice that we can learn from?

The Advance Network Phase 2 will specifically create contexts where the learning from phase 1 and other initiatives will be tested practically. Our launch event will start the process by bringing organisations and individuals together who:

  • are already in the process of initiating change

  • would like to take effective action and are looking for models of good practice

  • understand the importance of sector-wide collaboration in creating sustainable change

  • are at the vanguard of supporting leaders to innovate and build capacity

  • have a strategic role in ensuring music education gives children and young people equal access to excellence in the arts.

Speakers include:

Helen Sprott: Director of Music, Arts and Culture at the Arts Council England

Sean Gregory: Director of Creative Learning for the Barbican Centre and Guildhall School of Music & Drama

Ruth Cook: Managing Director of Action Learning Associates

Professor Graham Welch: Established Chair of Music Education for the Institute of Education, University of London

A Call to Action

Whilst the learning will continue, to really understand something we need to take action.

Take a small but meaningful step by booking your ticket now to Taking Action: Advance Network phase 2 here

Quote by Dr. Peter Honey