Some of the UK’s top orchestras have committed to a diversity audit in a bid to help more people from Black, Asian and working-class backgrounds into classical music.
The BBC Concert Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic, London Philharmonic and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain are among the 40 organisations who have signed up to I’M IN — the world’s first diversity and inclusion audit tool for the music industry.
Spitalfields Music and City of London Sinfonia, who play across east London, have also signed up.
The five-step programme will assess the diversity of each organisation, giving it a score and then suggesting actions it can take to improve inclusion.
London Philharmonic Orchestra chief executive David Burke said: “We are absolutely committed to broadening access to classical music through all that we do and recognise the potential for our sector to truly include the many inspiring voices that our diverse community represents.
“We expect our organisation to embrace and reflect our vibrant, multifaceted world, but appreciate the challenges in achieving this are deep and complex.
“We look forward to working with the tool kit as it will help us and others in our arts sector to make meaningful, sustainable strides towards our diversity and inclusion goals.”
National Youth Orchestra artistic director Sarah Alexander added: “Now is the time for listening, for learning, and for sharing the mic. NYO’s community of young people are passionate about racial justice and want to celebrate music written by a more diverse range of composers, telling more stories and representing more voices.
“We’re delighted to be part of I’M IN to ensure our organisation is reflecting the values of diversity and inclusion we are striving to represent in our music-making.”
London Music Masters co-developed I’M IN with consulting firm AlixPartners. The music education charity teaches 1,300 children each week in some of London’s most diverse boroughs to play the violin or the cello.
Of its students about 41% are eligible for free school meals. The charity counts cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who won the BBC Young Musician award in 2016 and played at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding, among its ambassadors.
London Music Masters executive director, Rob Adediran, said: “For change to happen it has to happen everywhere: in education, in management, in ensembles, in the commercial sector, in festivals and in venues.
“We hope that the breadth of organisations who are taking part will inspire others to join us on this mission… Change starts by taking a hard look at what we are getting wrong, and what we are getting right and I’M IN will help all of the organisations who signed up this summer to do just that.”