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……