An open letter seeking support from the brass band movement to offer proactive help to enable individuals, bands and organisations to work in partnership to make the brass band movement a fully inclusive and diverse music making environment has been launched.
Bandspeople's Alliance to Negate Discrimination (B.A.N.D) and has been spearheaded by freelance player Chris Hardy, conductor and professional musician Lee Dunkley and former player and arts production company director Ian Brownbill.
They hope that by people showing their support to stand against discrimination and intolerance it will enable banding to become fully reflective of the communities in which they are based.
"That's what this is all about,"Chris told 4BR. "We want the brass band movement to become a beacon of inclusion and diversity — to reach out to everyone and make them welcome. We cannot and must not shirk from the effort to do this, and do it now."
He added: "We want people to show their support, but also offer their proactive assistance where it is needed and to organisations that share the same aims and objectives.
We know there are far reaching initiatives being formulated and acted upon at all levels of banding, and we believe we must stand up and be counted on this and all play our part."
Embraces inclusion and diversity
Ian and Lee agreed: "The future for the banding movement is one that fully embraces inclusion and diversity. Getting people to work together to achieve that requires widespread support and we hope people sign up and offer their help and assistance."
One of the first to sign up was 4Barsrest — with Editor Iwan Fox explaining. "We all have a role to play in this, and it's heartening to see leadership has started being instigated at all levels of banding — from individuals such as Lee, Chris and Ian to leading representative organisations. 4Barsrest is certainly proud to play its proactive part."
We want the brass band movement to become a beacon of inclusion and diversity — to reach out to everyone and make them welcomeB.A.N.D
Read and sign up
The open letter reads as follows and can be supported at: https://www.facebook.com/Bandspeoplesalliance/
The brass movement has been an integral part of the cultural landscape of the United Kingdom for nearly 200 years.
It is a form of community music making without equal anywhere in the world.
Not only have brass bands provided generations of people with the opportunity to embrace a love and understanding of a huge variety of musical genres — from classical to jazz, pop to oratorio, march and hymn tunes to contemporary ballet, they have also been beacons of inspiration in offering tuition and instruments to help supplement the teaching of music at all levels of education.
Brass bands have, and should always be, a reflection of the communities from which they spring.
Whoever we are in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, education, mental health and well being, status or origin — we all speak one language. It is an identity forged by our desire to make music together.
However, we are fully aware that in the past 30 years or more, those communities have undergone social, economic and cultural change. There is now a much richer diversity to the demographic landscape in which our roots are embedded.
Because of that we believe that brass banding in the third decade of the 21st century does not fully reflect those changes, and has not been proactive enough in its desire to become so.
If we are to understand, embrace and develop a vibrant brass banding culture over the next decade and more — one which is fully diverse, inclusive and belonging, we must become a leading driver in its promotion, development and sustainability to a point in which every brass band is truly reflective of the community in which it is based.
The need for all who play a part — from players and conductors, composers, adjudicators, administrators, national organisations, contest organisers, media, businesses, volunteers and listeners alike — to become that driving force, is undeniable.
There is no place for any form of intolerance or discrimination in society or brass banding in particular, and we should all work towards ensuring that our movement is totally free of it in the future.
We believe that by working proactively as individuals and in partnership, and fully supporting those who share our ethos for a better, more diverse and inclusive brass band movement, we can provide the opportunity for people to enjoy a brass band movement that is safe, equal, positive and nurturing.
In the simplest terms, it is our mission to make brass bands the ideal place for everyone to enjoy making music together.