CEO, Dougie Scarfe, spoke to us about the impact of BSO Resound and their journey to make music accessible to all and to challenge attitudes and perceptions about disability.
Firstly, I want to say a heart-felt thank you to Allianz Musical Insurance for their sponsorship of BSO Resound, the world’s first disabled-ledensemble. Their support of the ensemble ensures its continuing artistic development and performance throughout the communities of the South and South West.
It seems like just yesterday that the BSO began its journey with the Arts Council England funded Change Makers Programme. We set out to champion the representation of disabled artists, professionally and culturally, and encourage the inclusion of disabled audiences/participants.
Our journey had 3 key components– an intensive 18 month training placement for disabled conductor James Rose to accelerate his development and confidence as an artist, the creation of a six-piece disabled-led professional ensemble, BSO Resound, and training for the whole BSO staff to embed an understanding of what it means to be truly inclusive in our working practices.
This work has quite simply been transformative on so many levels:
At an organisational level, the Orchestra’s employee understanding of disability and inclusion has doubled and the BSO has seen a 20% increasein disabled visitors in its audiences during the last year.
It has also raised the bar within the orchestral sector: the creation of the world’s first disabled-led ensemble delivered as a core part of a professional symphony orchestra and another world first with its debut performance at the BBC Proms in 2018, has demonstrated what can be achieved with determination to remove barriers to engagement for musicians and artists with disability.
And of course, BSO Resound captured the attention of the world. The ensuing whirlwind of national media attention BSO Resound attracted has helped to inspire a new generation of disabled musicians and young people about what is possible. I heard how one young pupil seeing BSO Resound perform for the first time said,
“I didn’t know people like me could do things like that for a job. It makes me think I could do anything I want in the future”.