We’re changing the way we select partners.
We want to work with partners who share the same values as us, specifically around diversity, including gender, along with a shared approach to audience development and data insight.
We want to work with partners who can create a supportive and valuable experience for composers. From ensembles, soloists, cross art form, education organisations, venues and much more besides: if you wish to work with a composer to expand your programme, develop your repertoire, and enrich the experience of your audiences – then we’d love to hear from you.
We also want to be more transparent in how potential partners can approach us.
If this sounds interesting to you, read on and find out how…
Our approach to partnership
Pretty much everything we work on and produce at Sound and Music is delivered in partnership.
This is for a variety of reasons both practical and aspirational. As a national organisation we aim to collaborate with a vast and varied mix of partners, from inside and outside of the new music sector.
We do this in order to gain a wider perspective. Learning alongside our partners is an important part of this collaboration, and enables us to understand their challenges and hopes for the residency outcomes.
This in turn opens up a rich and varied range of experiences and opportunities for artists and composers, with our residency programme ranging from the Open Data Institute, ROLI, British Library Sound Archive to Lichfield Festival and BBC Radio 3. This choice is essential for artists exploring the development of their practice, and each residency is as unique and bespoke as the composers at the heart of it.
Our aims are to provide the support and networks for new work and ideas to grow, the space to experiment and to stretch artistic muscles, to facilitate creative exchange and to embed composers and their work into cultural discourse.
We also want to encourage future opportunities for composers and hope that those who are new to this kind of partnership will be more open to programming this type of work in the future – creating a legacy and further sustainability for new music.
This is what a great partnership does. And we have had some really great partnerships, too many to list here, and their legacy continues to have an impact many years on.
Challenge and change
At Sound and Music we are in a period of change. As part of our Active Encouragement programme, supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, we have started to look at and address the lack of diversity in the artists and composers who we are working with.
This is one of our core priorities, and led us to devise and launch our new Pathways residency programme aimed at BAME and composers with disabilities. (Find out more about the activity, the artists and the learning so far from our Director of Programmes’ blog here.)
Because in Pathways we were looking for composers with specific protected characteristics, we recruited the composers first and are only now beginning the fascinating process of matchmaking with partners, in close consultation with the composers. This approach has taught us many things.
Composers first, partners second
So just to step back, what does this all mean for Sound and Music’s partnerships?
Well (like most organisations working in artist development) we used to put residency partner organisations in place first. We would speak to them, make plans with them and then we would make a public call for applicants with the partners named, and then shortlist and select the composers second. Pretty standard process and something we were very comfortable doing.
One of the key things we’ve learnt from the Pathways approach (composer first, partner second) is that it has allowed us to have control over the diversity of composers we’re working with. It has also shown us that this ‘artists first’ approach is thrilling. It puts artists and their music truly at the heart of our work, it is expanding our creative field, and it ensures that we have the time to understand barriers and issues facing artists and composers, and so better understand how to create environments where they can be at their best.
From now on, we are rolling out this approach across our artist development programmes.
We believe that this new way of working and thinking is likely to diversify our range of partnerships. We also think that it will deepen and enrich them, as we work together to create the best possible supportive environment for composers to stretch themselves artistically, and for their work to be brought to life and heard.
On the flip side it means that none of our customary pre-planning can be put in place. We’re taking a risk with this; success depends on there being organisations out there that share our values, as well as on our ability to facilitate a match making process well.
So we are looking for partners that:
- care about diversity and are excited by working with a broader range of composers
- want to work with us in supporting composers and ensuring that their music is brought to life and heard in the best possible way, including collaborating on audience development and data insight
- are up for working with us to progress these things.
The first stage in this new process is to develop our first ever partners database: a collection of curious, interested, excited partners and residency opportunities, for our composers and artists to explore. There’s no commitment at this stage: we just want to know if you’re interested.
In return you will have the chance to work with some of the most exciting, talented and innovative composers in the UK today (and us of course!) and help us shape this new programme of work.
The Partners Database will remain open, with a few key pushes throughout the year and in the lead up to selection. By joining the database you will receive direct emails and updates from our team.
Our first artist led partnership selection will take place in June/July 2017 for our five amazing Pathways composers.
If you’re interested, take a couple of minutes to sign up now to our Partners Database.
If you want to get in touch with us about the Partners Database, email firstname.lastname@example.org