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Orchestra report calls for improvements to access and inclusion

A new report published by Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) outlines five key principles to improve access and inclusion across a range of industries, following an 18-month programme, BSO Change Makers.

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

The BSO Change Makers programme comprised 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; and a series of organisational change activities including training for the whole BSO staff to embed inclusion and awareness in the organisation.

The BSO Resound ensemble appeared in 2018 as the world’s first professional disabled-led group at the BBC Proms.

As a result of the project, disabled artists have started to audition for positions in the BSO, and the BSO has seen a 20% increase in disabled audience members during the last year.

The new report, compiled by music charity Sound Connections, identifies five key principles which 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

Conductor James Rose said:

‘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.’

Dougie Scarfe, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra CEO, said:

‘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, visit www.bsolive.com.