Rhinegold Photo credit: BBC Proms
James Rose conducting BSO Resound at the 2018 BBC Proms

Melissa Bradshaw

BSO releases report calling for improvements to disability inclusion

10:51, 5th July 2019

The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is today releasing a report outlining five key principles to improve access and inclusion across a range of industries, following its 18-month BSO Change Makers programme.

The BSO was the only disabled-led music programme to receive funding through Arts Council England’s Change Makers campaign, developed to increase the diversity of senior leadership within the arts and cultural sector. The BSO Change Makers programme ran in three parts:

  • A training placement for James Rose, a disabled conductor
  • The creation of BSO Resound, a disabled-led professional ensemble created and directed by James
  • A series of organisational change activities including training for the whole BSO staff to embed inclusion and awareness

BSO Resound appeared last year as the world’s first professional disabled-led ensemble at the BBC Proms and have started to inspire a new generation of disabled musicians and children, with performances and workshops across the region and visits to a number of SEND schools. As a result of the project, disabled artists have started to audition for positions, and the BSO has seen a 20% increase in disabled visitors within its audiences during the last year. BSO employees stated 42% confidence in understanding disability before the project – this increased to 84% after training and 100% by the end of the programme.

The report, compiled by music charity Sound Connections, identifies five key principles that led to the successful integration of the programme:

  • The social model of disability is central
  • Everyone is involved
  • Senior leaders and trustees drive the change
  • The highest artistic standards and quality are expected and maintained
  • Opportunities for disabled people are created within every aspect of an organisation’s work

The BSO Programme for Cultural Change, constructed through the 18 months of learning, is available to inspire change, both nationally and internationally.

Conductor James Rose commented: ‘This project needed three key ingredients: a person with (what was thought of as) an outrageous aspiration; an organisation who were willing to explore the uncharted by supporting this individual; and the necessary funding to turn the aspirations and motivation into a reality.’

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra CEO Dougie Scarfe added: ‘Putting inclusion at the heart of the orchestra has been transformative. Embracing the small every-day things that over time lead to systemic change has brought us closer to the society which we are here to represent and whose lives we enrich through our music. It has changed the way we look at our company, our art, our audience and our role in the world. It is the most exciting and rewarding thing imaginable to lead such change.’

To request access to the full BSO Change Makers report and to register interest in the BSO Programme for Cultural Change visit www.bsolive.com.

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