The Advance Network Phase 2 Closing Event – what did I miss?

Despite the excellent work and high levels of commitment to change in the Cultural and Creative Industries, low cultural and social diversity amongst audiences, consumers and the creative workforce remains a key challenge for future success. We are particularly concerned that publicly funded arts, culture and heritage, supported by tax and lottery revenues, are predominantly accessed by an unnecessarily narrow social, economic, ethnic and educated demographic that is not fully representative of the UK’s population.”  Warwick Report

Many thanks to all the delegates that attended The Advanced Network phase 2 – taking action final event that took place on the same day as the Warwick Report was announced in the media. This is a brief reminder of the day for attendees and a short report about the event for those unable to attend.


This final network event took place at City Hall on 17th February marking the formal end of the Advance Network project. It sought to examine and highlight some of the actions that have taken place during the past 2 and a half years and also to empower delegates to either begin to take action or to continue building on the action they have already started to take.

Dr Christina Scharff was the first speaker to take the stage to present some of the highlights from her recently completed research report examining diversity and equality in relation to gender, race and class. Although Dr Scharff opened her presentation by stating that the findings paint a depressing picture, however, the data does provide a solid foundation for action to redress imbalances. The full report can be viewed hereIMG_3369 Dr Scharff concluded that: 1.The issue of gender inequality proves that there are institutional practices that need to change. 2. The pace of change is slow and change is not always progressive. In order to make a substantial difference the sector needs to consider positive action. 3. Structural issues require structural solutions – quotas or blind auditions for example.

Janine Irons MBE IMG_3383 gave a hard-hitting and impassioned presentation. She began by saying that she was not going to put a positive spin on the situation and that, after nearly 25 years of Tomorrow’s Warriors existence, it was soul-destroying to be having the same conversations about diversity. Despite decades of diversity initiatives and  funding to support this area very little had actually changed. Janine made a very strong case for the work that Tomorrow’s Warriors does to provide equality of opportunity for all, and made a plea to funders to stop setting up new initiatives and instead to focus on creating fundamental structural change. The focus must shift away from seeing diversity as a deficit and something that leads to the dumbing down of quality, and instead an acceptance of diversity being a badge for quality and excellence. Janine also made a plea to organisations to stop trying to use Tomorrow’s Warriors to tick their organisation’s diversity boxes!

Robert Adediran IMG_3386  began his presentation with the very personal story of his mother, whose own musical journey was severely limited despite her genuine interest and the support of her music teacher, Mr Wilson. Through this initial engagement Robert’s mother was passionate  in supporting her own children to develop their musical interests.  As a direct consequence of this, Robert and his two siblings now work in the music profession and have a lifelong love of classical music. He used his story to highlight the importance of taking the long-term view  i.e. that it can take at least a generation for real change to happen.   Robert went on to point out that it is critical that music organisations try to remove the often perceived ‘paternalistic’ approach of music education in the community. London Music Masters have begun to embed themselves in the communities around them and  don’t actually have to reach very far because they are already part of the diverse communities on their doorstep. The other main point he made was that the relationship with the community must be reciprocal.  From a personal point of view he spoke about his own interest in seeing how classical music is filtered through the experiences of diverse communities, so that the music they create is very different from those who have been classically trained – “music is a living thing that grows and changes”.

Milica Robson  IMG_3395  reiterated the importance of diversity to excellence and quality, neither of which can truly flourish without diversity. ACE are there to support and enable organisations to take action and strongly support those organisations that continue to place diversity at the heart of their work. Alongside excellence, accountability remains a core need but ACE is opposed to organisations simply ticking boxes and praised the excellence of the work done by Tomorrow’s Warriors. Milica also spoke of the work that ACE has been leading to set up the network of Music Hubs across the country. She reiterated the importance of this part of the ACE’s portfolio  – to give all children widening access to music around the country which must never be underestimated. The Hubs are based on the principles of equality and access, firmly enshrined in the National Strategy for Music Education. Milica ended by reiterating the need for a long term approach and encouraged all those present to continue with the good work that the Advance Network had initiated.

Key points raised from the floor in response to the presentations included:  

  • Agreement with the danger of a paternalistic / cultural imperialist approach – many initiatives come from well meaning mainstream organisations and the risk of these being patronising is immense.
  • The need for some care when looking at statistics on gender / race / class in relation to employment in the sector as there is an inevitable time lag due to the longevity of careers. It is important to also factor in the replacement rate and not just the employment rate.
  • Agreement that positive action measures need to be taken, and that diversity doesn’t mean a compromise.

Charlotte Barbour-Condini, BBC Young Musician 2012 winner of the woodwind final, gave a beautifully judged performance of  Telemann Sonata.

IMG_3399 Roundtable discussions The conference participants discussed in smaller groups whether there were small shoots of change emerging as a result of the Network’s activities, and what barriers remained.


Key discussion points included:

  • That the debate needs to move away from seeing diversity as a problem and recognise the important role it plays in creating quality and excellence.
  • The story of Mr Wilson as a metaphor for the need to take the long term view
  • The issue of class – which is often not discussed but which has a huge impact on access.
  • The need to not make too many assumptions and understand some of the complexities in this area – for example on the point made previously regarding the number of students at conservatoires coming from private schools – many BAME young people had received scholarships to private schools and this is an important entry route for many young people.
  • The need to do it for ourselves and not wait for diversity initiatives coming down from on high.
  • The need for structural change
  • The need to be passionate about music as this can be powerful when engaging young people – but perhaps not very ‘British’?
  • Need to show young people that there are different options and career paths in the industry.
  • Investing in teachers as they play a critical role.
  • Change is definitely happening but that shouldn’t be an excuse to just sit back and do nothing, we all need to play a role in creating sustained change.
  • Using a Hegelian approach to challenging ‘thesis’ – the status quo.
  • Reaching parents is very important and encouraging them to see music not just as a career path but a lifelong engagement.
  • The importance of flagship organisations / individuals as role models and providing examples of different ways of doing things.


Will appear in the next blog! There is plenty of food for thought until then ………………



Introducing: The Advance Network Phase 2, Access All Areas


After listening to great speakers and enthusiastic round table conversations in phase 1, we thought it was now time to translate that momentum into something that would expand our networks, skills, knowledge and bring a tangible sense of what is possible.


So, in 2014, The Advance Network will be creating supportive and engaged contexts for organisations and individuals to take action in relation to diversity and to share the positive practice that they may have already started. Through the methodologies of action learning and action research we will be providing opportunities to learn from and inspire each other, as well as explore the role of leadership in effecting change.

You are warmly invited to our phase 2 launch event

book your FREE ticket here

On February 10th 2014 at 1.30pm at City Hall, The Advance Network will introduce you to the programme in depth, and through our panel of distinguished speakers will give you a taste of the main elements and themes of phase 2.

We welcome as our guest speakers, who 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

Book your FREE ticket here

Stay in contact and book early as spaces are limited.

This programme is funded by:

National foundation for Youth Music Logo

We will be sharing more about the specific opportunities in this phase in our next blog, but, for now, do keep an eye on your inbox as we will be offering advance notice of ways you can get actively involved. Be among the first to join us for Phase 2 by registering for the event, following us on Twitter or follow our blog.

An Introduction To Non-Western Classical Music

Happy New Year everyone! We hope you’ve enjoyed the festivities and are ready to join us in 2013 for our next event. There are still a few places available for Access All Areas, Part Two: Unlocking the Door, taking place at the Royal Academy of Music on Thursday 24th January, 1.30pm – 5.30pm. If you are yet to book a place and want to attend, see here ASAP! Also check out our events page for updated information on our speakers.

In preparation for the event, today we have a fantastic article for you by Supriya Nagarajan to get us thinking. Supriya is CEO of Manasamitra, a composer and vocalist who practices Carnatic music and performs internationally. Enjoy!

An Introduction to Non-Western Classical Music
Supriya NagarajanSupriya

Music is the language used by mankind over centuries to tap into hidden facets of the personality and music making is one of the oldest traditions in the world. India is a country that has a rich tradition of music. Indian classical music has two styles, the South Indian (Carnatic) and North Indian (Hindustani). Both are intricate, advanced and complex musical genres. Carnatic music has largely remained untouched by the Persian invasion of India and hence is lyrical, religious and spiritual in context. Compositions from ancient times are routinely used as a backdrop to interesting improvisations and the tradition is strictly structured. On the other hand, Hindustani music depicts versatility and is free flowing with influences from the Persian conquests still dominating its core. The common factor in both the above mentioned systems is that both depend heavily on the musical compositions that are in practice within these genres. The main stay of Carnatic music for example are its philosophically and musically rich compositions which were composed by saint composers who sang them spontaneously rather than sitting down to write them. Similar to Bach, Beethoven and Mozart in the Western tradition, Carnatic music has the Trinity of composers Thyagaraja, Muthuswamy Deekshitar and Shyama Sastri.

One of the main features of the Western classical system is Harmony while the Indian music system is structured on melody. The major difference between both the systems is that the Indian music employs spontaneous improvisation of the musical scales structured around the compositions. These improvisational skills and the interpretation of the compositions differentiate an ordinary musician from an extraordinary musician as it is a play of imagination and skill. Also, Indian music gives importance to the meaning of the lyrics and hence is vocal based in rendition while the western music is based on the musical structure, specifically composed compositions for various instruments and the resultant harmony of the musical notes.

Today, India is going through a golden period in its musical journey where global influences pervade its core and younger musicians explore and experiment with courage and confidence. Through economic prosperity, India’s cultural offer has been extended and we have a new breed of classical artists who work outside the box whilst being completely rooted to their love of the ancient revered traditions.

Interesting in hearing more about non-Western Classical music? Then come to our event and hear more from Alok Nayak (Director of Milapfest) on diverse communities and non-Western Classical music. We hope to see you there!

Announcement: NYJO is recruiting new members for 2013

The National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) is very pleased to announce that it is recruiting for members for 2013. Whilst NYJO is proud of its tradition of holding open rehearsals to which anyone can attend and have a blow, the membership of the elite (though not elitist!) gigging band is by selection. For the second year running, NYJO is inviting young musicians under the age of 25 with experience of big band jazz to apply for a chair in the band. Auditions will be held in Manchester and London in early January 2013 and successful applicants would normally hold that position in the band for at least one year.

For more information, see here

What is the Advance Network all about?

As we are fast approaching our second Access All Areas event, we thought it would be a good time to remind you all (or enlighten those who are not yet aware) of what The Advance Network is all about. Check out the video below where the Director of Kuumba Youth Music, Surya Turner, outlines the history, aims and structure of the Advance Network.


More videos from our last event are available on The Advance Network YouTube Channel.  

Do check back soon for our next instalment!