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New plan to promote greater diversity across all areas of ABRSM work

2 years ago

ABRSM has unveiled a Diversity and Inclusion Plan as a key part of its commitment to championing the global language of music and reflecting greater diversity across all areas of its work.

Our new plan builds on a range of ongoing ABRSM initiatives to transform opportunities for women composers, composers from developing countries and young musicians from disadvantaged backgrounds and is the latest stage in our journey towards greater inclusion and diversity.

The five key areas of our plan will:

  • Introduce a minimum of 20 new compositions or arrangements from composers from underrepresented backgrounds every year through an active commissioning programme. The programme will start this year by commissioning 15 composers from underrepresented backgrounds to write for ABRSM’s forthcoming woodwind syllabus.
  • Transform our syllabuses by making sure that 50% of all syllabus update commissions, and 20% of all syllabus content, including new commissions, arrangements, and existing works, come from composers who are Black, Brown, and Indigenous People of Colour (BBIPOC).
  • Create new career opportunities every year for 15-20 composers from underrepresented backgrounds by helping them write for music education. The new mentoring and development programme gets underway in January 2021.
  • Build new strategic relationships between us and our sector partners with specific diversity expertise, with the Ivors Academy and Musicians Union now working with ABRSM.
  • Ultimately transform the organisation itself through a Diversity and Inclusion Group already set up to lead change across everything from staff training and recruitment to governance and examination panels.

ABRSM Chief Executive Michael Elliott said: “Our Diversity and Inclusion Plan is a core, permanent commitment that will have a transformative impact on who we are and what we do, inspiring diversity in the next generation of teachers, leaders, and musicians.

“We know we cannot achieve this change alone and are genuinely grateful for the support and commitment of the Ivors Academy and the Musicians Union, who, amongst others, have offered their expertise to help us make the transformations we need to make.

“We will be transparent about our progress and invite challenge and debate as we forge other new partnerships that help us towards our goal of supporting everyone to achieve their musical potential, regardless of their background.”

Ivors Academy Chief Executive Graham Davies said: “The Ivors Academy is pleased to see the announcement by the ABRSM of a number of commitments, changes and goals which begin the process of diversity-led change within this important organisation, its syllabuses and operations around the world.

“We are keen to work in partnership with ABRSM on their ambitious diversity and inclusion agenda to deliver as much impactful change as quickly as possible.”

Musicians Union General Secretary Horace Trubridge said: “It’s fantastic to see ABRSM listen to our members and implement some of the changes we have asked for. Creating syllabuses as diverse as the students who study them is essential and something that the Musicians’ Union has worked on for a long time.

“The MU will always push for greater diversity and we look forward to working with ABRSM to see the impact their diversity and inclusion programme achieves.”

See our Chief Executive’s blog on the new plan and read our progress update


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