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Booking now open: Sound Connections Social Justice Conference

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Thursday 30 November 2017, 9.30-4.30pm
Cecil Sharp House

NB conference information will be updated as speakers are confirmed over the coming weeks.

At our 2016 conference we reflected on the words of Matt Griffiths from the National Foundation for Youth Music, who said that ‘inclusion is not something we do on a Wednesday afternoon’. This year, we are taking this idea one step further and looking at the link between the work we do with music and young people, and social justice.

We are strengthening our commitment to building a more equitable world, with more meaningful opportunities to engage with music and the arts. Through conversations with our Challenging Circumstances Music Network over the past year, and seeing the continued injustices of the world, we have created a conference that tackles some big questions head on.

The day aims to go beyond the rhetoric of diversity and look at the systemic issues that allow and uphold inequalities. We will unpack equity and look at the challenges social justice poses to our organisations, structures and practice – social justice is about the way we see the world, our place with it and our connections to others; it constantly demands that we reconfigure ourselves, bring to the centre the most marginalised, and improve society for everyone.

On Thursday 30 November 2017 at Cecil Sharp House, we will explore fundamental oppressions that shape our society – oppressions related to class, race, gender and disability – and how they manifest in the work that we do. We will collectively explore language, practice and ways to build equitable approaches to our work that can challenge social injustice and help to make our work in challenging circumstances even more effective.  Alongside this, we’ll look at impact measurement, and the challenge of sustainability for music and arts organisations, particularly those run by small teams or individuals working in isolation.


Who is the conference for?

The conference is for anyone working with children and young people through music, including music facilitators and teachers, Music Education Hubs, managers and administrators, students, funders, policy makers and researchers. This year’s event is also aimed at the wider youth and arts sectors too such as youth workers, artist educators, and anyone interested in the role the arts can play in tackling systemic injustice. If you are interested in impact measurement, diversifying funding and making the arts more sustainable, then this day is for you too.
The day aims to:

  • Look at how we go beyond the rhetoric of diversity, and move towards building equitable practices
  • Look at how we build social justice into our work and organisations
  • Explore language to help us better navigate our work and understand where language perpetuates social injustices
  • Share practical ways to make your work and events more accessible
  • Look at how neoliberalism shapes our work within the arts, and how we can work to centre the most marginalised in society
  • Explore sustainable and diverse methods of funding and measure impact effectively


Conference overview


Setting the scene (keynote, provocations and table discussions)

We begin the day with a series of provocations about structural oppression within the context of the arts and wider society. We have a mixture of arts and social justice practitioners to lead the opening sessions, which aim to explore how structural issues – specifically around race, class, gender and disablity – that underpin and shape our work. Politics is never absent from the work we do, and this is especially true for those working in challenging circumstances.

Doing the work – ‘Social justice on the ground’ (panel debate and workshops)

After laying the groundwork in the morning, we’ll move on to explore how structural issues play out in our programming. We’ll hear the experiences of young people, youth workers and cultural commentators, and together with policy makers consider alternative methods within our work.

We will unpack equity and look at the challenges social justice poses to our organisations, structures and practice – social justice is a way of seeing the world, constantly demanding that we engage with it to bring the most marginalised and vulnerable to the centre and improve society for everyone. We are consideration and try to combat structural oppression in their approaches to programming.

Making it sustainable (workshops and funder Q&A)

The arts are filled with young people living through and practitioners working within challenging circumstances. We’ll ask how we can make work focused directly on alleviating challenging circumstances sustainable, particularly where we know that funding is under threat? How can we diversify opportunities for funding so that smaller organisations or individuals can continue to deliver their work?

We’ll be diving in deep to look at impact measurement and funding. We’ll facilitate open and honest conversations with funders about practice, equitable opportunities and language, and how our approaches to impact measurement can better serve the young people we work with.

Throughout the day, there’ll be a dynamic mix of practical workshops, panel discussions and provocations. We’ll also have our signature one-to-one coaching sessions on hand to help you develop your practice, projects and career.


Full day tickets are £85 – if you can’t attend the whole day email and we can arrange a morning or afternoon only ticket for you.

Discounts are also available for CCMN members, ISM members, students and groups. Free tickets are available for personal assistants, carers and Wired4Music members. Email for more details.


Book your ticket here


We’re thrilled to announce that the ISM have generously chosen to sponsor this year’s event.

The ISM is the UK’s professional body for musicians. ISM membership provides thousands of musicians with essential advice, insurances, legal help and more. To find out more and join the ISM click here >



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