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Sound Connections’ Community Consultation

What do people need to develop inclusive programmes and practices?

As part of our commitment to social justice, and to building more inclusive practices, we have taken a different approach to building our programmes this year. We’ve spent the last few weeks reaching out to different stakeholders, speaking to organisations from different sectors, and of different sizes, to build a picture of need that draws from voices we don’t usually speak to.

Using Youth Music’s priority areas (Early Years; Special Educational Needs and Disabilities; Not in Education, Employment or Training; Youth Justice and Cold Spots) as a guide, each member of the team was given a set of geographical areas in London to explore in a bid to think about how we can deliver an effective, responsive programme of activity for 2018/19. We’ve spoken to music organisations, but also community centres, parent groups, nurseries and more. Below are some of the key findings from some of the team:

Outer-boroughs count tooKatie

“In London’s outer-boroughs there is a lot of great work being done on the ground with many dedicated staff running on low resources. Boroughs like this are less served than many of the inner boroughs and are not always aware of the work of organisations like Sound Connections and the resources that may be available to them (particularly in terms of funding). I think it has really shown me that we need to be more active and seek out work and need instead of waiting for people/groups to come to us.”

Strategic capacity building Tej

“I’ve been really interested in people and groups that have set up organisations to fill a gap in provision for their local community – often voluntary, these groups have set up impressive musical offerings to young people who otherwise would be neglected: whether they live with a disability or have been in trouble with law, for example. I’ve been reflecting on the tension between the support these groups need, cuts to provision and the often repeated conversations about organisations and Hubs struggling to build relationships in their local area. There’s an opportunity to capacity build and broker more relationships, so that groups doing vital work get the support they need to keep supporting young people whose musical journeys often have an added layer of significance.”

Localised programming is essential Julia

“Music making happens everywhere. In inner city boroughs we default to formal settings, arts spaces and theatres. We must dig beneath the obvious to find the amazing music making and performances that happen every day in pubs and clubs, sports centres and youth spaces. We must value online performances and digital creative spaces. We as a sector need to connect with and broaden our horizons to fully represent young people’s music.

People need ‘stuff’ on their patch. If we are going to truly represent and support the broader London workforce and music education community we need to develop a programme that is localised. Outer boroughs are deprived of funding, transport, knowledge of opportunity (or rather, we aren’t getting through the noise) and deprived of spaces and venues.”

We need to work with leaders outside of the sector Jenn
“I’ve spoken to three organisations so far who all have a focus on specific issues: London Gypsies and Travellers, Drive Forward Foundation (working with care leavers) and the Standing Committee for Youth Justice. It has been a real reminder to me that the music sector needs to build relationships with non-arts organisations that have particular expertise, know particular communities really well and have spent years building trust and connections. Here are some key takeaways from the conversations I’ve had:

  • There is a huge opportunity for music organisations and practitioners to learn more about, connect with and support the changes taking place across the youth justice sector. Due to a recent review and change in policy direction, secure homes and schools are moving from a focus on discipline, security and punishment to being more nurturing and rehabilitative environments staffed by youth workers rather than security officers.
  • Speaking to London Gypsies and Travellers revealed that there are many gypsy and traveller young people in London who get left out as it’s very easy for them to slip through the system. Their communities have received so much prejudice over the years that they can’t trust institutions and authorities. Organisations like London Gypsies and Travellers have worked consistently with the same communities for 30 years to build trust – the longevity they have committed to is key. They have no prescriptive model for working with young people, so everything they do is very centred around each individual and responsive to them and their needs.
  • Music is often a top priority for young people. Many I have spoken to try to pursue a career in music but it’s still too common-place that they don’t have the support, contacts or routes to progress.”

Supporting musical progression in youth clubsPhilip
“I spoke to a number of youth clubs who have music studios but limited capacity to employ tutors to meet the demand. Demand certainly outstrips supply and the success of those clubs doing it really well, such as New Horizon Youth Club in Camden, rely on dedicated individuals who really understand the young people they work with. Also much needed are next steps for young people, so anything like Wired4Music is really useful for them to engage with.”

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