Benchmarking Inclusion…Going beyond ‘ But we already do that!’

Written by: Michael Davidson

20 February, 2019

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MusicNet East contributed a presentation on Benchmarking Inclusion to the Eastern Region Hubs Heads at the Arts Council building in Cambridge on Wednesday 23rd January.

Lyndall Rosewarne described how Changing Tunes is researching development of musical inclusion practice within the core roles of instrumental teaching, and how this is building a new business case for music services.

We introduced the Youth Music Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (E, D and I) checklist as a helpful tool for benchmarking how far music service structures already support equality, diversity and inclusion, and to identify actions to take their work further.

With support from the ROH Bridge and Festival Bridge organisations,  Hub leads broke into groups to share what they’re already doing around one statement from the checklist …‘Positive action is taken to reach under-represented groups…’ and to discuss ways to take this to the next level. 

Conversations revealed considerable differences as well as similarities between services.

Some music services are doing inspiring work with NEETS (Not in Education, Employment, or Training), identifying staff with particular interests/specialisms in inclusion practice to lead the work, and thinking about how to disseminate the learning through the wider workforce as a next step.

Some thought it was important to challenge assumptions that young people at risk of exclusion only wanted to learn certain genres, or instruments  i.e. Hip Hop or music technology. One service was developing a group harp project in an EBD (Emotional Behavioural Disorder) school.

The groups discussed the value of developing connections with local authority targeted support teams. One service lead felt the service’s role was to focus on musical outcomes rather than on social value of music making…’We’re a music service, rather than a social service’. Another reported its musical therapy team was already having conversations about inclusion, and had thus experienced difficulty making the case for inclusive values of instrumental teaching. Others had developed long-term partnerships leading to significant match funding for inclusion projects. One service reported it was well placed with regard to diversity due to the diverse demography of its location.

Due to the in-depth discussion and sharing of good practice, some topics will be discussed at the next meeting. These areas include: how recruitment can support inclusion to ensure a wider representation in the workforce, how diversification of progression routes and pedagogy can respond to young people’s interest and needs, to go beyond defining inclusion as participation in ‘business as usual.’ However the lively discussion raised service leads’ interest to go beyond what is already being done. The Youth Music E, D and I action plan will support those interested to take this forward.

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