Disabled people (who make up one fifth of the UK population) are considerably under-represented in the arts workforce.

In June 2017 the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) embarked on an unprecedented and ground-breaking 18-month programme to make the Orchestra more accessible and inclusive.

The programme, which was part of Arts Council England’s Change Makers funding initiative, included three main activities:

  • A training placement for James Rose, a disabled conductor, to accelerate his development, experience and confidence as an artist
  • The creation of BSO Resound, a disabled-led ensemble created and directed by James, giving a series of public performances and workshops
  • An ongoing series of organisational change activities, including training for the whole BSO staff to embed accessibility and disability awareness throughout the BSO

Change Makers and BSO Resound continues to gain significant attention from around the world inspiring and changing perceptions of disability.

Performing Hoping by Alexander Campkin.

“Putting inclusion at the heart of the orchestra has been transformative. Embracing the small everyday things that over time lead to systemic change has brought us closer to the society which we are here to represent and whose lives we enrich through our music. It has changed the way we look at our Company, our Art, our Audience and our role in the world. It is the most exciting and rewarding thing imaginable to lead such change.” – Dougie Scarfe, CEO, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

“We’re committed to ensuring the diversity of England is better reflected at a leadership level across the arts and cultural sector, so we’re really pleased to be supporting Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra through our Change Makers programme to help us work towards this goal. The scheme aims to give individuals a unique and transformational opportunity to realise their leadership potential, giving them the confidence and the experience to take their next step into a senior leadership role, helping to shape the future of our sector.” – Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England

“The BSO is delighted to be working with James to support his artistic ambitions in a project that we hope will also inspire gifted musicians with and without disabilities to have the self-belief that they too could become professional musicians with ambition, dedication and practice.” – Lisa Tregale, Head of BSO Participate

“The prospect of developing a new ensemble for the BSO comprising of players with and without disabilities is an exciting one. This will not only provide a platform for new talented musicians, but it will also be used as a vehicle to inspire those who have disabilities to engage with classical music – whether it be playing or listening.” – James Rose, BSO ‘Change Maker’

Putting inclusion at the heart of the orchestra has been transformative.
Dougie Scarfe, CEO, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

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