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Philip Flood, Director at Sound Connections, reflects on the last 16 months

As I write this the sun is beaming outside and I am getting ready to meet some of the Sound Connections team at Crystal Palace Park for the first time since March 2020. It has been quite a year and throughout it I have been amazed, humbled and heartened by the resilience, determination, creativity and positivity of everyone I have worked with.

The pandemic has had a profound effect on the way all of us work and interact with each other. It has also further highlighted the vast inequalities and ongoing barriers that many people face on a daily basis in accessing music, arts and wider cultural activities.

For the music leaders that we support the bottom literally fell out of their working lives and an early priority for Sound Connection was to look at how we address their needs to support when the majority of their work disappeared. We repurposed our training to move everything online, we offered individual careers and mentoring sessions, we provided bespoke funding for personal development plans and we tried our best to create an online community of practice that would address some of the issues that our colleagues were experiencing.

Similarly, through Wired4Music, our network of young Londoners age 16-25, we developed numerous employment opportunities, mentoring sessions and webinars to help sustain their careers and enable them to thrive.

During the pandemic our role as a sector support organisation has really come into its own and our online presence has enabled us to increase our reach both nationally and internationally. Both our Youth Voice Week in October and the Inclusive Practice in Action event in February drew participants and audiences from many different places resulting in richer and more meaningful conversations and experiences for everyone.

Our funders have been incredibly flexible and accommodating which has allowed us to make changes to our offer and reach a much wider range of organisations, practitioners and young people. This has resulted in increased financial support for individuals and many hundreds of hours of one-to-one mentoring, advice and guidance.

None of this work would have been possible without the incredible skills and flexibility of the Sound Connections team. Everyone contributed above and beyond what was expected of them. Laptops were delivered in car parks (thanks Jenn), and extra data, office chairs and screens were purchased. Like everyone else we migrated to Zoom, Teams, Slack, Trello and Padlet (to name a few). We’ve learnt a lot from working in this digital way and there is much that we will bring with us as we plan the next year.

Over the summer we are moving offices, just two floors down in Rich Mix, to a smaller (and cheaper) space and encouraging a more flexible approach to working. If we need to meet as a whole team then we will find a space, perhaps a park. The Sound Connections team are spread far and wide, which is a strength, so the office 9-5 just doesn’t work anymore.

As the academic year draws to a close, we also wish our very best to Jenn Raven, as she starts her maternity leave and welcome Isabella Kernot as the new Deputy Director for the next 12 months. This will be our last newsletter until September so I would like to thank you for your support and engagement with what we do and hope that you manage to get a well-deserved break and rest when you get there.

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Support our work with London's young music makers. Donate Now