Strengthening Music in Society: The way forward for UK Conservatoires

Date: 16 December 2021

The full conference report is available to download below.

Strengthening Music in Society - Conference Report.pdf


This conference brought together key voices and perspectives from across the classical music sector to collectively address the challenges and opportunities currently facing UK conservatoires and the classical music system of which they are a part.

It was a key moment for the sector to come together - in the context of the challenges posed by Brexit and Covid19, and in response to global social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo - to ask fundamental questions about our purpose and identity, to take stock and to set new progressive and inclusive directions which support performance excellence and the relevance and impact of our work within 21st century society.   

Hosted by the Institute for Social Impact Research in the Performing Arts, the conference took as its starting point an AEC-commissioned review article written by Professor Helena Gaunt, Principal of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, which highlights the main themes that have emerged from the international four-year AEC project ‘Strengthening Music in Society’. Helena’s opening keynote drew out implications of these themes for the UK in particular, to which six invited respondents from across the sector provided critical perspectives. The event was chaired and facilitated by Jess Gillam MBE, award-winning saxophonist, broadcaster and Guildhall School alumna.

This conference was supported by and hosted in association with Conservatoires UK (CUK), the Association Européenne des Conservatoires, Académies de Musique et Musikhochschulen (AEC) and SEMPRE.

Public Livestream

This livestream took place on the 16th December 2021. A recording of the presentations is available to watch below.



Full biographies for all participating speakers can be found on the PDF below.

Strengthening Music in Society Conference - Speaker Biographies.pdf

The award winning saxophonist, broadcaster and Guildhall School alumna Jess Gillam, MBE will be chaired the event. The keynote presentation was delivered by Professor Helena Gaunt, Principal of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama.

The following speakers participated as respondents:

  • The Student perspective – Ankna ArockiamPhD candidate at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland & founder of Shared Narratives.
  • The Pedagogic perspective – Diana SalazarDirector of Programmes at the Royal College of Music.
  • The Research perspective – Professor Graham Welch, UCL Institute of Education Established Chair of Music Education
  • The Employer perspective – Linda Begbie, Development DirectorManchester Collective
    • Unfortunately Linda Begbie was unavailable to participate on the day, however she provided a document outlining the response that was due to be given - this can be viewed here.
  • The Industry perspective – Gillian Moore, CBEDirector of Music, Southbank Centre, London.
  • The Government & Policy perspective – Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, CEO, UK Music

Conference Partners:

Strengthening Music conference logos

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