As the events of the past week have unfolded and Black Lives Matter campaigning has come to the fore, we have been thinking hard about how to respond as a team of multiple backgrounds, heritages and ethnicities. We have been considering the most meaningful ways to offer solidarity and support to Black communities, how to use our power and platforms to advocate for change and, most importantly, continue to act as an organisation committed to anti-racism.

Learning about, understanding and dismantling the structural racism that exists in our society is not new to us – we’ve been on this journey for a number of years and, whilst confronting and uncomfortable, we have learnt a lot. We recognise that a two-pronged approach needs to be taken if we as organisations are to confront structural racism. Organisations need to drive institutional change from within, as well as provide outward support to Black and minority communities. As an organisation, Sound Connections has and will continue to push anti-racism, intersectional diversity and inclusion in our everyday and long-term practice, and acknowledge we have much more to do.

In support of organisational change we have compiled a foundation of learning and resources that have helped us to develop a more critical, reflective and honest culture. We hope these will encourage and assist other organisations/employers on their journey:

  • A list of reading and resources by Sarah Sophie Flicker, Alyssa Klein. We’ve found this a great way to support a culture of learning. It has been particularly useful during the staff induction process. We also have our own supportive list here.
  • A power and privilege exercise – We created this to help us become more self-reflective as a team.
  • Research into racism and whiteness in Early Years music – We commissioned Susan Young and Nicola Burke to conduct this research. We used the recommendations from this as a prompt for discussion at a staff away day (view also the Social justice principles taken from the research). 
  • Active Listening skills – The ability to listen is key and we have consciously developed active listening skills drawing upon this resource from Seeds For Change.
  • Diversity and Inclusion training and consultancy – We have provided other organisations with support on diversity, inclusion and equality within the arts through training and consultancy.
  • Music and Social Justice Network – We also host the Music and Social Justice Network, which over the past couple of years has provided a space for people to engage in learning about oppression. We are organising a network gathering that will include time and sensitive facilitation for people to discuss the issues raised by recent events and how this relates to working with young people through music – details of this will be released via our website, newsletter and social media soon.

Further resources can be found in the Sound Connections resource library.

We have also compiled a list of promises that we, as advocates of anti-racism, equality and diversity wish to make to our Black and minority community members. We promise you the following:

  • To continually review our working culture, from recruitment practice and processes to how we interact in the office and online. This involves identifying potentially exclusionary behaviours or habits that are driven by expectations based on white culture and norms. We have made small but powerful changes to ensure people feel welcome and able to be themselves.
  • To create and maintain a safe space where racism (and other oppression such as sexism and ableism) can be called out. This involves senior leaders actively showing that they value all points of view and are open to change; making time for people to discuss issues; practising Active Listening; and being quick to act when an issue is raised.
  • To build on the support we provide to young people, the workforce and other organisations through training, resources, advocacy and networks.
  • To strive to think and work in an intersectional way.
  • To deepen our work internally on eradicating structural racism in and around Sound Connections – including being more explicit and public about our intentions and actions.

We know that what is happening now can’t be a short-lived burst of activity and solidarity that fades away once the moment has passed. We can never do enough and the tragic events highlighted over the past few weeks are a terrible but powerful reminder we need to do more, deepen our commitment and shout louder. It is imperative that this is not just a trending moment, but a change in the social and institutional conscience of our world.

Listen. Learn. Reflect. Act.

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