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Meet the Trainer: Ruth Lesirge, Honorary President of the Association of Chairs, talks to Music Mark

7th February 2020

“I am often heard saying that there are 120 Music Education Hubs in England and 121 ways of running one, but what every Hub has in common is a board with a Chair.  Of course, the role of a Music Hub’s board varies but they are often an unsung part of the music education ecology in England.” – Bridget Whyte, Music Mark CEO on why we’re running this workshop for Chairs alongside Music Mark’s Spring Summit 2020.

We spoke to co-founder and Honorary President of the Association of Chairs, Ruth Lesirge, who’ll be running the invaluable session for us.

MM: What can participants expect from your session on the day?

RL: The opportunity to focus on: what governance in practice is, why governance matters, what good governance looks like and tips and frameworks to help Hub boards add value to the work of their organisation. By the end of the session participants should feel more confident in understanding governance issues and feel able to implement some of the ideas discussed.

MM: The Music Education Hubs and services we work with all have specific and unique organisational structures, how will the workshop manage this?

RL: The session will focus on managing the key board activities i.e. governance oversight, support, decision-making and working relationships with the staff which are relevant and important to all Chairs and board members. Whatever the legal structures, non-executive boards have a great deal in common.

MM: What are common challenges you see Chairs face?

RL: We often hear from Chairs that they face challenges around ensuring all trustees or board members are able to give their best and work effectively together as a team. Managing tensions in the board and creating a productive culture is not straightforward or easy. Concerns include recruiting, supporting and developing trustees/board members and ensuring they’re a good fit. Being a trustee/board member involves commitment and finding the right people with the skills needed can be difficult. Finally, succession planning- finding a suitable Chair to replace them when they step down. Succession planning is vital to ensure Chairs have enough time for hand-over, but often it’s something which is not considered until it is too late. Finding a replacement can be difficult so allowing enough time is really important. More information about key challenges can be found in our Chairs’ Challenges series of briefings.

MM: Why is it so important for Chairs to attend sessions like this one?

RL: A board can only function well if it is well led. The role of the Chair therefore brings specific tasks, responsibilities and expectations; they may not be written down but are implicit. This makes it a demanding and rewarding role. Sessions like this one provide Chairs with an opportunity to share ideas with other Chairs and to gain insight and ideas which can help them perform their role effectively. More information about key challenges and opportunities which Chairs may face, can be found in our A Chair’s Compass guide.


Find out more about how to sign up for the training and booking for the Spring Summit here.