Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Sound and Music launches initiative to address lack of diversity in new music

4:39, 22nd March 2016

Sound and Music has launched a new initiative to address the lack of diversity in new music.

The Active Encouragement: Pathways programme invites UK composers and music creators who are either registered disabled or from backgrounds other than White British to join Sound and Music’s talent development residency programmes.

The programme has been created in response to data collected and analysed by the organisation over the last three years regarding applications to its programmes (see below).

The selected artists will receive bespoke coaching and mentoring from Sound and Music from the first six months before spending 18 months as artist-in-residence with a partner organisation on one of Sound and Music’s existing talent development residency programmes.

They will also participate in a number of peer networking days that bring together composers and music creators supported by Sound and Music.

Susanna Eastburn, chief executive at Sound and Music said: ‘Last year, when the new Canadian president Justin Trudeau was asked why his cabinet was 50/50 men and women, he simply answered: “Because it’s 2015”. This is how we feel about the data we see regarding the diversity of the composers we are supporting – which we believe reflects a wider problem across the music sector. Why are we doing this? Because it’s 2016.’

‘Action on improving diversity needs to move to the centre of artistic planning in our sector,’ said Richard Whitelaw, director of programmes at Sound and Music. ‘As the national funded organisation for new music we want to do better. We want to take responsibility for creating a representative and outstanding artistic programme that celebrates the vivid diversity of adventurous UK music creation today.’

The Pathways programme will open for applications on 24 March. Click here for more information.

In 2015/16, more than 550 people applied to a Sound and Music programme. The average applicant was a London-based 25-34 year old white male with a PhD who had already applied to Sound and Music before.

Out of the 470 applicants who filled in the equal opportunities form over the past three years, only 7% considered themselves to have a disability and only 26% listed their ethnicity as anything other than White British. Applications from women comprised 32% of the total. Not a single person of Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi heritage submitted an application.

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