The Advance Network Closing Event – Part 2

“The lack of diversity in leadership roles is still acute and there is a real issue as advancements in this area seem to have flat-lined or even possibly gone backwards!” Sean Gregory …”it is only through committed and sustained intervention that genuine change will happen.”


The second half of the event began with a short preview of Kuumba Youth Music’s new advocacy spotlighting film Musical Journeys.The film tracks the journeys of a number of  young musicians and their parents and provides a very powerful tool that will promote and profile the benefits of supporting BAME young people to progress in the classical music education sector. 

The film will also be uploaded onto the Advance Network blog for wider distribution after its premiere in April.

Hilary Carty, chair of the panels


James Douglas was the first of the second panel to take the stage. As an emerging young BAME professional musician (who spoke at the first Advance Network Phase 1 event in 2013) James spoke about his own experiences accessing the professional world. Since he graduated with an MA from  the Royal Academy of Music last year James has been touring internationally with a number of contemporary musicians including the singer Laura Mvula. He is applying for orchestral work and  is also teaching. James reiterated what others have said about the obstacles that BAME musicians face and spoke of the need to be ‘pig headed’ at times and to persevere. He noted that seeing the spotlighting film brought back a reminder of his own first classical music experience – when he was 8 years old the CBSO visited his school and this was the spark that lit his imagination. “It is important to keep coming back to that original spark, as this is what keeps musicians passionate about what they do.”



Beverley  Mason presented an overview of the research conducted during Phase 1 of the Network. She noted that the research showed that there were still many barriers that BAME young musicians face in their progression and that a key objective of the report was to provide a basis for dialogue to be created in the sector so that some tangible collaborations could be developed to support action. A copy of the executive summary and the final draft of the research report can be obtained from Beverley Mason directly.


Sean Gregory began by saying how important the Barbican’s involvement in the action learning sets had been as a means of opening up conversation within the organisation and this has been a powerful part of the organisation’s learning. He went on to talk about the key issues that are prevalent for the Barbican particularly the need to work on progression and pathways to support young people over a sustained period of time.

He continued by acknowledging that partnerships are critical – no organisation should be operating in isolation anymore and that everyone needs to be more generous with their time and resources towards each other and collaborate more.

Sean went on to talk about how the Barbican is addressing these issues with two particular initiatives. Firstly they have set up the East London & City Partnership (supported by funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Charitable Trust), which is working in partnership with schools and communities across the area to support lifelong engagement. The Partnership is very much about sharing information and resources, and reducing duplication and it is developing a 5-10 year cohesive plan for entitlement for young people in the area.  The second initiative is the creation of a new “Golden Thread” for lifelong learning and development. This will support young people to unlock their own creative energies and skills and develop a career path into the industry. Part of this programme involved setting up a new BA in performing arts, which will provide a new model and route into the industry without being based solely on academic attainment. The overarching principle of this strand is that young people, from a diverse range of backgrounds, will be encouraged to enter the creative professions with the result that, in ten years’ time, there will be a  pool of emerging talent that really reflects the look and feel of London. Sean ended by reiterating the importance of being in it for the long term .

Next there was a short musical interlude by 2 musicians from Tomorrow’s Warriors:  Rhiannon Jeffrey (violin) and Miranda Lewis (cello) performing the jazz standard ‘Autumn Leaves’.IMG_3437

After a very positive presentation from the participants of the Action Research Labs, Graham Bland and Jenni Parkinson, the participants went back into their roundtable groups to discuss the ‘call to action’ made at the event – i.e. what action can I commit to?



Following the roundtable discussions participants were asked to write down their commitments on post-it notes for collation. The actions that were noted were:


  • We will be continuing the work started through the Advance Network through a new grant that we have been awarded by Youth Music, working closely with partners.
  • To remember that passion breeds passion, particularly when encouraging young people
  • Put young people at the heart of these conversations – there are very few young people actually present at this event and it is important that they are part of the whole debate!
  • Inclusion means making way
  • We will be more searching in finding inspiring role models to share with our participants
  • I can actively reflect and look for opportunities to increase access to programmes or music that I believe is fantastic
  • Take time to reflect!
  • Don’t accept the status quo – develop practical examples of what works and connect outwards to influence more widely
  • Talk to Kuumba about distilling and fashioning the Advance Network experiences and insights into an online workshop
  • Pin down the rationale and data
  • Continuing to provide access to the arts for children and young people that may not get the opportunity otherwise
  • To continue to put the voice of young people at the heart of these conversations
  • Ensure that music-making is cross-genre and creative from an early age to allow children and young people to be introduced to classical, jazz and other genres they may not have already encountered
  • Speak from experience about barriers to access and minority ethnic groups to develop greater awareness
  • More research into progression routes
  • Positive Action!!
  • Continue to support our children in their musical journeys and be a sounding board for the parents
  • Pro-actively targeting diverse schools for project work
  • To actively seek out replicable / adaptable models for good practice eg. support networks for parents
  • Increase parental attendance at after school lessons to support the progression of our students
  • To facilitate dialogue and experience sharing for the parents of our young musicians
  • Increasing active engagement with participants in programmes, to make those programmes enjoyable for the people involved. For example asking participants what kinds of repertoire they’d like to explore
  • Developing a pathway / programme for young people to gain training for advances music making that is accessible
  • Diverse leadership at admin / Board level
  • Undertake an internal needs analysis to determine what we could or should do to further push the diversity agenda forward
  • Put diversity at the heart of our next conference
  • Get to know Hegel!
  • Equip young people to know themselves and be proud of who they are – they are the next generation of cultural leaders
  • Increase diversity in staffing / leadership
  • Supporting families to support their children
  • Doing annual music concerts – Music for Haiti


The final event closed with a speech from Krystyna Budzynska, one of the founding members, who reminded the participants why the network was originally set up – to commit to creating a landscape where diversity can flourish. Krystyna noted that key aspects of the work initiated by the Network would be carried forward by Sound Connections, who will be running a London-wide network for young people in challenging circumstances, including BAME young people. Alongside this London Music Masters will be running a series of critical debates looking at some of the key issues that the Network has focused on. The Advance Network will also be providing an online network for participants to continue to share experiences. Finally, the Network founders are planning to hold an event in 2018 to see what progress has been made and to follow up on all the individual commitments that participants have pledged – so there will be “no ducking out”!

The next blog will give details about the next debate to be given by London Music Masters……


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 ………………


A Massive Thank You from The Advance Network!

With your help, and in just 7 months, the Advance Network has done some very interesting things…

We have held 3 Events

with 16 Speakers

listened to by  230 Attendees

who shared ideas around 20 Roundtables

listened to 40 young Musicians and 1 professional muiscian

and had over 1100 Blog Views!

Our third and final Access All Areas event, ‘Pushing the Boundaries’ generously sponsored by Southbank Centre gathered a wide range of individuals from across the country. We had four presentations from Dr Omar Khan, Timothy Walker, Marshall Marcus and Milica Robson, a conversation between Gary Crosby, OBE and Chi-chi Nwanoku, MBE and a musical collaboration between young musicians from Kuumba Youth Music, Tomorrow’s Warriors and Royal Academy of Music with Denys Baptiste on the saxophone.

What’s next for The Advance Network?

Mapping the Landscape – the research continues.

Beverley Mason in collaboration with the Institute of Education will be continuing to research the intersection between nurturing excellence and effective practices in overcoming barriers for BAME musicians. We will be bringing you updates via the blog so keep checking in.

Action, Action, Action.

At our last event, Surya Turner led a discussion on the network’s next steps. We would like to take the Advance Network into a second phase, which will focus on bringing individuals together to produce tangible change. We will keep you posted on our progress.

Keep in touch!

In the meantime, there are several ways that you can keep in touch with The Advance Network:

– Follow us on Twitter @AdvanceNetwork1

– Keep visiting the blog for news and updates.

– Send us an email at with any comments or questions. We would especially love to hear any feedback you have on our Southbank event.

Finally, thank you once again to everyone who has attended and participated in the series, we could not have done it without you. We hope that it has been a positive and enlightening experience for you all!


2 Weeks To Go! Pushing the Boundaries Event

There are just 2 weeks to go until the final event in the Access All Areas series, Pushing the Boundaries. Taking place in the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre at 1.30pm on Monday 29th April 2013, we have some amazing speakers lined up to discuss the final themes of the series. See below for further details.

Part Three: Pushing the Boundaries
Venue:   Southbank Centre, London
Date:      Monday 29th April 2013
Key stakeholders debate steps for collective, sustainable change. We hope to address:

·         Why diversity still really matters (especially in this current climate)
·         The role of funding in pushing the boundaries
·         Orchestras: Changes, Challenges and obstacles
·         Jazz and Classical music, diversity conversations

– Marshall Marcus – CEO of the European Union Youth Orchestra
– Dr Omar Khan – Head of Policy Research, Runneymeade Trust
– Timothy Walker – Chief Executive and Artistic Director, London Philharmonic Orchestra
– Gary Crosby, OBE – Director, Tomorrow’s Warriors
– Chi-chi Nwanoku, MBE – Principal Double Bass and Founder Member, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
– Milica Robson – Relationship Manager Diversity in Arts Practice/Music, Arts Council England

Our chair will be Hilary Carty.

Through workshops/roundtables we will invite all delegates to imagine a different landscape and consider the important steps that we will need to get there. We will also review the Advance Network’s journey so far and will be supported in doing this by the presentation of the network research.

To book your place visit

Thank You!

The Advance Network Team would like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who attended our ‘Unlocking the Door’ event at the Royal Academy of Music on Thursday! The event was a great success with lots of positive outcomes resulting from the roundtable discussions that took place.

For those who missed out, videos of the presentations will be up on our YouTube channel shortly, so keep an eye out for them. For those who attended, what did you enjoy most about the day? Let us know by posting a comment below!

Our next event, the final in the Access All Areas series, is taking place at the Southbank Centre on Monday 29th April 2013. Continuing on from Thursday’s event, ‘Pushing the Boundaries’ is one not to be missed! Keep an eye on our events page for updated details and more information. We hope to see you all there!

Access All Areas: Part Two – Tickets Available Now!

We have now sent out the invitations for our next Access All Areas event – Part Two: Unlocking the Doors! Tickets are very limited so please do register as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. If you have not received an invitation and would like to attend, please send us an email at and we will get one sent out to you. See below for further details on the event…


“We learn most when faced with a real problem which we are obliged to solve” Lord Weinstock

In Unlocking the Door, we will explore:

  • What effective practice looks like
  • Current challenges and attempts at addressing lack of representation
  • New ideas for action


– Clare Lovett, Acting Chief Executive and Programme Director Spitafields Music Festival – Challenging the Status Quo

– Alok Nayak, Development Director Milapfest – Diverse communities and Non Western Classical Music

– Beverley Mason, medar pysden international – Presentation on diversity and Effective Practices, Themes and Challenges

For more information, get in touch!