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.”
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

Our Fair Access Principles Partners


PRS Foundation

“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


Snape Maltings

“This is an important step towards more open and inclusive artist development programmes, and Snape Maltings supports it wholeheartedly. We believe that Fair Access Principles will encourage organisations to work together in continuing to remove barriers, broaden our reach and diversify our programmes, making these accessible for music creators from all backgrounds as well as in all genres of music. It resonates strongly with our ethos as an organisation, and the vision Britten and Pears had for the arts to be useful for society as a whole.”

Sound Festival

"At sound, we believe that the increasing diverse society we live in should be reflected as much as possible in the composers we work with. We are committed to putting in place new processes to widen access to our development, commissioning and performance opportunities. It is of utmost importance to also work alongside other organisations to ensure that new ways of working become embedded in the new music sector. We are thus extremely pleased to be collaborating with Sound and Music on the Fair Access Principles programme."

Drake Music Scotland

"At Drake Music Scotland we are firmly behind the idea of a more diverse range of composers having equality of opportunity and access to artistic development opportunities, competitions and awards.  We work with disabled composers and music creators through our own programme and with other organisations in mainstream music, to remove the barriers, challenge perceptions, enable these new voices to be heard and their artistic ideas come to fruition."

Opera North

"Opera North supports the Fair Access Principles because accessibility and reaching artists from the broadest range of backgrounds and experiences is central to our Resonance artist development scheme and other opportunities. We are delighted to work with Sound and Music and other partners to keep developing our approach over the long term."

Sage Gateshead

"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



"Unlimited is committed to fair access throughout the arts, and are proud to support Sound and Music’s Fair Access Principles, which work towards eradicating barriers to accessible opportunities. We believe such work is vital for a dynamic and innovative creative sector. We therefore encourage other organisations to do the same!”

Tŷ Cerdd

"Tŷ Cerdd is proud to be a launch partner in the Fair Access Principles. As we endeavour to reach out across Wales to a more diverse range of composers, and to help remove barriers that we know artists are experiencing, these principles feel important and timely. Thank you Sound and Music for sharing this approach with the sector."

Royal Philharmonic Society

"The creative industries fundamentally thrive on a diverse and dynamic range of voices. At the Royal Philharmonic Society, we are continually striving to minimise barriers to participation for the widest possible range of people and are proud to adopt these Fair Access Principles. Building on our existing work through our Women Conductors programme, we look forward to working with Sound and Music and fellow launch partners on improving accessibility to our development programmes and opportunities sector-wide."

English Folk Dance & Song Society

"Inclusion and access are central to the English Folk Dance and Song Society’s aims and objectives.  We strive to engage with the widest range of people and to ensure that we remove any and all barriers to engaging with our work and the wider folk arts sector.  We are delighted to sign up to the Fair Access Principles and look forward to working with Sound and Music and other partners on increasing diversity and access to folk and the wider music sector."

London Symphony Orchestra

"The London Symphony Orchestra has a profound commitment to diversity and inclusion, including in LSO Discovery's artist development schemes. The Fair Access Principles will help bolster our efforts to reach out to and work with a more diverse range of artists. We are proud to collaborate with Sound and Music and its partner organisations in tackling the issues many face when building careers in music, and uphold new standards for the industry.”

Ligeti Quartet

"We have benefited from many publicly offered schemes and residencies in the past - these are sometimes the only way to gain education, experience and exposure in the world of music. We believe the Fair Access Principles are really important for helping ensure that everyone has a fair chance at these opportunities. We wholeheartedly commit to the principles for schemes that we provide.”

Featured composer



Drake Music
Youth Music
University of Huddersfield