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Bridget’s blog: Embracing change with the Talk into Action conference series

6th June 2022

Music Mark CEO Bridget Whyte

Talk Into Action Conference Series: Save the Dates!

  • 9 November – Bristol, MShed
  • 14 November – London, Conway Hall
  • 17 November – Online
  • 22 November – Derby, Derby Conference Centre
  • 24 – 25 November – Newcastle, Newcastle Civic Centre 

The team at Music Mark are currently working through the I’M IN process developed by Music Masters (an opportunity open at a discounted rate to Music Hubs & Services who are Members of Music Mark).  There are 10 topics for organisations to discuss and I had thought we would probably cover two or three per 1.5hr session booked into the diary in May and June.  How wrong I was!  The set of statements associated with each topic have all resulted in such rich discussion that we didn’t finish the first topic in our initial meeting.  And a couple of weeks ago once we’d finished that topic (‘motivation’), we moved on to the second one, but again didn’t get through the full set of statements.  It’s clearly going to take us a while to complete the process, but that’s OK as it is proving so valuable to discuss the themes within the sessions and I am confident it will really help us to consider how to be a more inclusive and diverse organisation and Membership Association.

One of the discussions we had last time – as part of the topic of Organisational Culture – was about whether we do what we do because we’ve always done it that way, or if we should ‘mix things up’ to find ways to be more diverse and inclusive.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a tradition (and regularly think of the great phrase from the Disney Beauty and the Beast “If it ain’t Baroque don’t fix it”) but change can be good too. Embracing change and a growth mindset can be challenging, but it’s clear to see the potential for what can happen when you step away from doing things in a certain way because that’s how they’ve always been done. Examining all elements of our work from a fresh perspective and asking when it’s right to resist following well-worn templates has been an invaluable conversation for the whole team.

This is something we’ve particularly been thinking about with our Annual Conference, which we’ve been developing over the past six months or so with the help and insights from our Talk into Action focus group. With the theme of ‘Talk into Action’, this year’s conference focuses on ED&I and the sector’s commitment to it. This challenged me to think about how everyone accesses our conference, and how to ensure it really is more diverse and inclusive in this respect.  A key initial thought was that not everyone will be able to come to Newcastle, which I announced as our two-day conference location back in December.

…What I didn’t say then is that as well as Newcastle, we’re also going to be hosting a number of other one-day events around the country! We have considered how we can best organise an accessible digital offer whilst preserving the opportunity to community build and network in person. There’ll be;

  • In person conference days in Bristol (9 November), London (14 November), Derby (22 November), and Newcastle (24 – 25 November)
  • A fully digital session streamed live from the Midlands Art Centre on 17 November in Birmingham, with the recordings made available on our conference site afterwards
  • A suite of engaging on-demand material available on the conference website for 6 months

So wherever you are and whatever your access needs you’ll have a way of engaging with the Talk into Action conference series and being a part of the change you want to see in the sector.

We hope that by running a series of events across November, more colleagues can join us to discuss and explore ED&I. Each of these one-day conferences will provide an opportunity for those working in music education to think about their practice.  Sessions will provide actionable content, inspiring everyone to make changes, or ‘ramp up’ what they are already doing to be more inclusive and diverse. We’re also keen that there is plenty of time for everyone to network and enjoy rich conversations with their peers.

As for Newcastle, we will have a two-day conference for those in leadership roles to discuss how we can all lead and support a sector which is committed to ED&I, what actions we need to take to support our workforce who work with children and young people, and what we can do to address equity, diversity and inclusion through the programmes they access.

Booking for the conference series will open soon, but for now, can I ask everyone to take ‘action’ by looking in their diary and blocking out time to attend at least one of the events we are planning?!

I hope that this new way of running the Music Mark Conference will be a positive change and challenge us in a good way. We certainly think it has great potential as part of Music Mark’s Talk into Action journey!