I have started my new role of Creative Director at Help Musicians UK by asking the following three questions:
1. How do we know what musicians really need to have successful careers?
2. Who can help us find out the answer to this question?
3. What will we do with this knowledge?
To start answering the first question, I looked for evidence from two sources: our own research and research written by others. From external sources I found over 40 reports, written over the last 10 years covering different genres or specific themes. Within these are the threads of an understanding how we can best respond to the needs of a professional musician. We also want to find out how our current support impacts the sector, where other charities and funding organisations compliment or overlap our support and what the potential gaps in support might be. With this information we can weave a stronger understanding to ensure we are focused on mending the holes in the funding tapestry.
So, who will help us answer this question? We have appointed Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy and Sound Diplomacy to review the existing research and start to extract some common themes. These organisations bring together a rich understanding of the music sector and we have set them a challenging task with an equally challenging deadline.
This then brings me to my final question - what will we do with this knowledge? The research will make recommendations and, without pre-empting those, we suspect that they will fall into the following categories:
Champion the work of others: in some areas, Help Musicians UK can’t offer added value or impact but should signpost to others who can.
Work with others to achieve more: Help Musicians UK, as an independent charity can be a catalyst of change, bringing together organisations to work across key themes, whether geography, genre or demographics. Working with shared objectives and shared impacts will benefit more musicians.
Fill the gaps: Help Musicians UK has a unique opportunity to test and pilot innovative projects that respond directly to the current gaps in provision.
Once we have received the recommendations, we will knit this into our strategic planning process. As a charity nearly 100 years old and under new leadership, we are using this year to evaluate what we do and why we do it.
So, to answer the final question, we will use the knowledge from the research, weave it into our strategy and develop a new Creative Programme. We will also publish the findings, making the outcomes of the research available to everyone through our website. We will also use this year to listen to more musicians and organisations working with musicians to forge new partnerships and ensure we provide help, support and opportunities to empower musicians at all stages of their lives.
The next three months will be an exciting and busy time at Help Musicians UK as we weave this altogether. I look forward to sharing with you how we have answered these three questions later on in the year.Back