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The next step needs to be action: Music Mark publishes Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion report by Researcher and Advisor, Samantha Spence

5th May 2021

Following 7 months of research, Music Mark has published an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion report by Researcher and Advisor, Samantha Spence, exploring how Music Education Hubs can instigate real change within their workforce. Read the full report.

In 2020, in response to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests and the public discourse surrounding it, a number of particularly interested London Music Education Hubs (MEHs) created a sub-group from the London Music Education Hub network in order to discuss how to shape a positive response to issues of racism in music education and their individual and collective response.

After challenging and thought-provoking conversations across the network, it was proposed that a long-term, action-research programme be undertaken across London, to explore diversity, representation and how to instigate real change. Music Mark, membership organisation and subject association, agreed to fund the initial research stage, and in October 2020 appointed Samantha Spence as a Researcher and Advisor to explore racism and representation within Music Education.

Read more about Samantha’s appointment.

To move forward, four key areas were identified:  the governance of each organisation, the workforce it employs or engages and the children and young people it serves should reflect the diversity of the UK, and the resources being used should also be representative of the rich and exciting array of music and musicians who can inspire all learners.

The research process took 7 months and used a combination of qualitative and quantitative data collected via surveys, questionnaires, interviews and discussions with individuals who work for, or lead a hub.  With this initial work, Samantha focused on the workforce recognising that it was this that would shape the ability for music services and other hub partners would then be able to address other three areas of interest.

The report offers a vast and in-depth exploration of staff experiences across the London MEH workforce, considering factors such as behaviours, attitudes, and a sense of belonging. Key findings from the report show that the London Music Education Hub workforce was found to have a representative gender balance and overwhelmingly, respondents from all groups felt a strong sense of belonging at their workplace.

However, the report also found under-representation in terms of ethnicity and race, with less than a quarter of the workforce identifying as Black, Asian, Mixed or a person of colour from the global majority, compared to a London population of 43%. The lowest representation appears at the leadership level where 87% of the MEH leaders identify as White and there is a lack of role models of colour at the top.

Following these findings, the report concludes with several practical steps to instigate change through the Theory of Change model, and there are suggestions for practical actions in achieving greater inclusivity, diversity, and representation, and to continue moving forward having now gained this insight.

Stuart Whatmore, who sits on Music Mark’s Advisory Committee as the Regional Rep for London, said of the report:

The Music Services and Hub leaders in London wholeheartedly welcome this excellent report which is an important step in our collective and individual proactive response to a need to address racial underrepresentation in music education, and musical pathways beyond.

This research will inform a larger sector-wide movement focusing on instigating change through practical workshops, resources, and guidance. Music Mark’s CEO, Bridget Whyte, confirmed this ongoing commitment, saying:

“We believe we are most powerful when we come together and therefore plan to continue and expand our work in this area, so that we can support the entire Music Mark network and look at wider ED&I areas (including connecting with other organisations working in this area such as Youth Music and many of its Fund C programmes such as Changing Tracks, Sound Connections and Awards for Young Musicians). As part of this ongoing commitment, over the summer and autumn, we will be working towards launching a member ‘call to action’ which will include toolkits and guidance and an opportunity to engage in a sector wide approach to measure success against agreed aims. The collective name for our work will be Talk into Action.”

Updates on Talk into Action as it progresses over the coming months will be shared with the Membership.

Samantha Spence’s full research report can be downloaded here.