Sound and Music’s 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”).
Sound and Music’s Fair Access Principles aim to open up a positive public conversation about how as a sector we can work together 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.
Sound and Music has 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, Sound and Music has 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, Sound and Music commits 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. Sound and Music also commits 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.”
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 email@example.com
Our Fair Access Principles Partners
“PRS Foundation believes that the success of the projects we fund is driven by the diversity of our grantees. Until open call programmes are more inclusive, we miss out on exceptional talent. We are therefore working closely with other funders and talent development experts to ensure opportunities are more accessible, and fully endorse Sound and Music’s Fair Access Principles.”
- Joe Frankland, CEO, PRS Foundation
Drake Music Scotland
"Inclusion is at the heart of our work at Sage Gateshead, so we are delighted to be one of the first organisations committing to the Fair Access Principles for composers and music creators. The principles reflect changes we have already made in our Summer Studios residencies and help us push forward with improving access across our other artist development programmes. We're looking forward to sharing our progress and learning with the other organisations involved."
- Abigail Pogson, Managing Director, Sage Gateshead