2021 challenges and team changes


2021 has been another busy and incredibly difficult year. 12 months ago, in December 2020 I wrote an end-of-year message reflecting on the challenges we had all faced during the first year of the pandemic.

I hoped then that 2021’s message would be written in happier and more stable circumstances. However, we find ourselves still living through and navigating this complex, ever-changing and ongoing situation. I would like to extend my thanks to all DM trustees and to our team for their dedication, drive, care and hard work during these times. I would also like to thank our many partners and funders for their continued engagement and support.

2021 – a challenging year

Over the past 12 months Drake Music has continued to deliver many of its programmes, including brilliant and extraordinary initiatives such as Tiny Techies, Think22, DMLab NW, OrchLab, Emergent Commissions, and our partnership with British Council Japan, Kawasaki City & Tokyo Symphony Orchestra.

We have kept going as we faced the demands of the pandemic alongside serious organisational challenges. These included periods of absence for me due to Covid, and a difficult, but necessary, whistleblowing investigation in which 3 artists raised concerns around unintentional harm of adults at risk and ineffective safeguarding. Our Whistleblowing Policy is there for an important reason; following it helps us to fundamentally learn and improve our ways of working. This has been a critical and important process for Drake Music and one which we value.

As an organisation, we would like to apologise to the artists involved. It is our aim to be truly, fully inclusive and we did not meet our aim here. We understand that it cuts deeper when an organisation that should be accessible falls short, and we commit to listening and making amends. We hope that making the recommended changes will go some way to helping us understand each other better and to making Drake Music a stronger organisation for the artists and communities it works with and supports.

Changes in the team

As we head into 2022, we will be seeing changes within DM as some of our colleagues take this moment to move on to new pastures. We have achieved a huge amount together over the past years across our work in music education, accessible tech and artistic development. While it is always sad to lose any of our team we are delighted that other brilliant organisations will be graced with their talents and skills.

Some of the team have already moved on (our thanks to R&D Lead, Tim Yates and General Manager, Louis Gilbert) and we are about to say goodbye and thank you next week to Think22 Programme Lead Douglas Noble, although he will continue to support the T22 team in the short term.

In the new year our colleagues Tom McGrath, Miryam Solomon and Bea Hubble will also be heading off to exciting new jobs in the arts and third sectors. Thanks and congratulations to you all.

New team members

This year I am pleased to say we have also been joined by 2 new team members. Now I’d like to take this moment to officially welcome Kit Bailey and Cat McGill to Drake Music.

Kit joined us in May to help co-ordinate during my absence and phased return to work, and Cat came on board in the summer to help steady the ship as we made some space to address the difficult issues facing us. Kit is now heading up our Programmes and Cat is leading on Operations.

Cat brings 20 years’ experience as a community musician specialising in inclusion to the role, as well as her valuable experience in founding and leading Folk Arts Oxford and Live To Your Living Room. During the pandemic she has been busy running live events on Zoom, generating around £200k for artists and creatives and resulting in fantastic recognition in the Queen’s birthday honours and from the Women in Live Music Awards.

Kit is a highly experienced arts administrator, event producer and production manager, with a background in festivals, artist agency and management as well as media production for a wealth of great institutions including the BBC, Sky Arts, SJM Concerts, V Festival, T In The Park and Cambridge Folk Festival. They both bring fantastic experience, skills and enthusiasm to the team and I’d like to say a big thank you for their support over these past months.

Finally, we are also looking forward to welcoming our new Artists In Residence who will be joining us in spring 2022. Watch this space for an announcement about these fantastic artists in the new year!

Looking to 2022

Moving forward we will reflect and take stock, listen to our audiences and carry out some important and necessary organisational development work. We will continue to deliver our programmes digitally for the immediate future, beginning with the next round of the DM Collective artistic development programme.

Finally, we would like to say congratulations and good luck to the #WeShallNotBeRemoved campaign which has been nominated for Community Project of the Year at The Stage Awards. The winners will be announced on 31st Jan 2022, so fingers crossed!

The DM office will be closed between 22nd Dec ’21 – 4th Jan ‘22 (including our social media channels) for a much-needed Christmas pause. I hope that you, and we, are able to rest, stay safe and have a peaceful break over the festive period.

Thank you for reading, I will share more updates on our organisational development plans and delivery in 2022.

Very best wishes,