Reflections on Drake Music



23DM20 logo5_292_0As a part of our ‘DM amplifying and sharing experiment’ I asked our social media associate Martin Couzins to help me develop a monthly blog post looking at what I, as CEO of Drake Music, have been doing.

So to get me started, Martin suggested he interview me.

This is how it started:

Martin: ‘Carien, what have you been doing?

Me: ‘Yes, Martin.  This is the problem. I can’t remember…’

So, not a great start! Put on the spot my mind went blank.  Luckily, after a bit of cajoling, I hit upon on thing I really wanted to talk about. And that is to do with the National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) funding bid for the Arts Council. This is basically our core funding that we receive from Arts Council England for a period of three years.  They are a major funder so this is really important.

The deadline is about now so I have been working hard with the team over the last few weeks and months, asking questions, thinking, writing and basically trying to put together a bid that will secure our core funding from 2015 to 2018.

As a part of this process we had a meeting recently with officers from the music department of the Arts Council. It was an interesting meeting and we got some good feedback on our work.

They asked me a question about our work and I explained that learning and participation is at the core of what we do and that artistic development, research & development and training directly feed into that.

I got some very interesting feedback, which I loved and made me reflect on our work and our organisation at this stage in our development.  They commented that they see DM as bringing together excellent learning and participation activity, which works at the grassroots level, with the experimental work in our artistic program, (in terms of the way we work with artists and the kinds of things we commission), plus R&D which is pushing us forward in many different ways.

In a way, the meeting was an opportunity to reflect on the fact that we bring all these various strands together. We are working very closely with a range of participants, musicians and artists, but also with technologists, hackers, thinkers and makers and so on – developing, testing and trying out new ideas and new instruments.

We ensure this feeds back into our learning and participation work. And by making sure that all this work feeds into each other, it doesn’t become static – it remains flexible, relevant and innovative.

Drake Music pioneered the use of assistive music technology to remove disabling barriers to musical participation – but I think we are now using R&D and artistic development to inform our learning & participation and training work and vice versa.

I didn’t expect the meeting to help me reflect on the fact that Drake Music’s work is really interconnected and also incredibly experimental at times. And there is a reason for that – we ensure that disabled musicians and artists are at the heart of what we do and that we continue to facilitate access to music making for all.

I also feel that artistically and creatively we are becoming really much more engaged nationally and internationally.  That, I think, is important.  We’re not working in isolation.

We’ve still got to get the funding, but it is good to reflect on the great things we are achieving – I never thought my meeting would do that!


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