Our Fair Access Principles are designed to act as a code of best practice for running successful, open and inclusive artist development programmes, competitions and awards for composers. (The definition of “composer” varies between organisations; at Sound and Music we mean “anyone creating their own music, in any style or genre”.)

The Fair Access Principles aim to open up a positive public conversation about how we can work together as a sector to identify and take steps to remove barriers to inclusion or consideration. As part of our remit as a national organisation, we want to encourage the sharing of best practice and to improve the accessibility of selection processes so that a more diverse range of composers can have equality of opportunity.

In order to achieve this, we want to work collaboratively with the wider sector to address ongoing issues around inclusion, and to advocate for our collective responsibility to remove barriers. We also want to acknowledge our responsibility to improve the experience for all composers who apply for opportunities, and to minimise the negative impact of competitive processes on unsuccessful applicants.

We have developed the Fair Access Principles through consultation with a broad range of composers and organisations, as well as from our experience of running open call programmes.

In the series of video interviews [inset], we spoke to three composers about why they believe the Fair Access Principles represent an important and necessary step towards a more equal arts sector.

Read the full Fair Access Principles:

Why do we need the Fair Access Principles?

Over the past few years, we have publicly highlighted our aim to diversify the range of composers we work with. We have made some progress, learnt a great deal, and have taken steps to improve the accessibility of our programmes. We also know that others are doing good work in this area.

However, greater change is still needed. We believe that we need to accelerate change, now, and work more strategically with others to do so. Too many composers are prevented from benefiting from opportunities for the wrong reasons: because of their background, demographic, economic circumstances and access needs. This means that talent is not recognised and supported, and an insufficient range of composers will be creating new music in the future.

At Sound and Music, we are currently implementing some but not all of the principles; like many organisations, our improvement is a process and we ourselves have further to go to ensure that our programmes offer fair access.

However, we commit to implementing all of the Fair Access Principles across all of our programmes within 24 months, and to share our learning and progress against this commitment and timeline.

We invite other organisations to join us in this commitment to change, to sign up to these principles and a timeline to implement them, and to create together a more inclusive and equal sector. We also commit to actively promoting other organisations and opportunities which adhere to the Fair Access Principles, and we would like to create a national network so that we can share learning and support each other.

We also believe that many of these Fair Access Principles can apply to other art forms and areas of artistic practice (including work with children and young people), and welcome approaches from organisations in other fields about adapting them.

“It’s important to Sound and Music that the composer’s voice is central to everything we do. We believe that by setting out these Fair Access Principles for best practice, as a sector we can work to ensure that all composers have an equal chance to participate in opportunities and to have their voices heard. The Fair Access Principles have been developed through a process of conversation and learning, and we want them to act as something that stimulates further conversation, improves our practice as organisations, and enables talent to flourish.”
Hannah Bujic
Co-Head of Artist Development

We're actively looking for more partners to join us in committing to these principles. Find out more about how to get involved by emailing Co-Head of Artist Development, Will Dutta at will.dutta@soundandmusic.org

Our Fair Access Principles Partners


PRS Foundation

“PRS Foundation believes that the success of the projects we fund is driven by the diversity of..."

Read PRS Foundation's full statement and commitments


Britten Pears Arts

“This is an important step towards more open and inclusive artist development programmes, and...”

Read Britten Pears Arts' full statement and commitments


Sound Festival

"At Sound, we believe that the increasing diverse society we live in should be reflected as much as possible in the..."

Read Sound Festival's full statement and commitments


Drake Music Scotland

"At Drake Music Scotland we are firmly behind the idea of a more diverse range of composers having equality of..."

Read Drake Music Scotland's full statement and commitments


Opera North

"Opera North supports the Fair Access Principles because accessibility and reaching artists from the broadest range of..."

Read Opera North's full statement and commitments


Sage Gateshead

"Inclusion is at the heart of our work at Sage Gateshead, so we are delighted to be one of the first organisations..."

Read Sage Gateshead's full statement and commitments



"Unlimited is committed to fair access throughout the arts, and are proud to support Sound and Music’s Fair Access...”

Read Unlimited's full statement and commitments


Tŷ Cerdd

"Tŷ Cerdd is proud to be a launch partner in the Fair Access Principles. As we endeavour to reach out across Wales..."

Read Tŷ Cerdd's full statement and commitments


Royal Philharmonic Society

"The creative industries fundamentally thrive on a diverse and dynamic range of voices. At the Royal Philharmonic..."

Read the Royal Philharmonic Society's full statement and commitments


English Folk Dance & Song Society

"Inclusion and access are central to the English Folk Dance and Song Society’s aims and objectives.  We..."

Read the EFDSS' full statement and commitments


London Symphony Orchestra

"The London Symphony Orchestra has a profound commitment to diversity and inclusion, including...”

Read the LSO's full statement and commitments


Ligeti Quartet

"We have benefited from many publicly offered schemes and residencies in the past - these are sometimes the only way to...”

Read the Ligeti Quartet's full statement and commitments



"Philharmonia Orchestra supports Sound and Music’s Fair Access Principles as part of our ongoing..."

Read the Philharmonia's full statement and commitments



"Manasamitra is a small arts charity located in the heart of West Yorkshire. We are able to see..."

Read Manasamitra's full statement and commitments


Manchester Collective

"Manchester Collective is passionate about creating opportunities for artists from different backgrounds and...”

Read Manchester Collective's full statement and commitments


Music Hackspace

"The Music Hackspace's mission is to empower everyone to be creative with music technology. We champion a...”

Read Music Hackspace's full statement and commitments


New Music Scotland

"At New Music Scotland we are committed to working in a diverse and open society. Committing to the..."

Read New Music Scotland's full statement and commitments


Ensemble Matters

"We enjoy working with different creators and we believe a diversity of voices keeps us fresh. Over the years..."

Read Ensemble Matters' full statement and commitments



"Supporting emerging artists is at the heart of Nonclassical’s work across our events, record label and..."

Read Nonclassical's full statement and commitments


Jazz North

"Jazz North is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion across all that we do. We believe..."

Read Jazz North's full statement and commitments


London Sinfonietta

"At the London Sinfonietta, we have been committed to making new music for over 50 years..."

Read London Sinfonietta's full statement and commitments



"We are passionate about providing an open and inclusive artist and project development programme. By..."

Read Launchpad's full statement and commitments



"As an arts organisation, Cryptic believe that inclusion, diversity, equality, accessibility (IDEA) and..."

Read Cryptic's full statement and commitments


Live Music Now

"We value diversity and inclusion very highly at Live Music Now. For this to be realised..."

Read Live Music Now's full statement and commitments


Liverpool Philharmoic

"Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s mission is to enhance and transform lives through music, but we can..."

Read Liverpool Philharmonic's full statement and commitments

Featured composer


Drake Music
Youth Music
University of Huddersfield