In July 2021 an investigation was launched following whistleblowing concerns raised by three neurodivergent musicians, engaged with Drake Music in different capacities between 2018 and 2021.
The concerns raised include allegations of unintentional harm of adults at risk and ineffective safeguarding because of a failure to meet the access needs of neurodivergent musicians, and a failure to adequately address and resolve concerns raised.
The matter has been extensively investigated by an independent person and a full report has been produced. We have now formally written to the three witnesses with confirmation of our commitment to resolving the many recommendations from the report and now consider the process closed.
The allegations and concerns are summarised below:
- The unintentional harm of adults at risk.
- Inadequate safeguarding policy, procedure, training and practice.
- Inadequate understanding of the risk of psychosocial harm and how this can be mitigated.
- An inadequate response to reports of potential harm relating to projects from which neurodivergent people have felt excluded.
- Inadequate planning in relation to projects.
- A failure to adequately address or resolve concerns relating to the access needs and welfare of several neurodivergent musicians.
Summary of findings and comments:
- Although key policies like safeguarding, equality, wellbeing and complaints exist in document form, the policies tend to be produced and filed away rather than embedded in practice.
- Witnesses to this investigation have expressed psychological distress to Drake Music team members, but this does not always appear to have been identified or recorded as a safeguarding concern or resulted in any of the responses and interventions described in the safeguarding policy or the wellbeing policy.
- Overall, there appears to be a lack of understanding and inconsistent application of the policy areas reviewed.
- There is evidence that adults at risk may have been caused unintentional harm in the form of anxiety and other psychological distress as a result of their interactions with Drake Music.
- Drake Music were aware that the adults concerned identified as neurodivergent and/or mental health survivors, faced disabling barriers, and needed support.
- There is no evidence that the harm caused was intentional. Indeed, team members have for the most part tried to be supportive and resolve concerns.
- Witnesses report feelings of exclusion, anger, frustration, disappointment, and sadness.
Wide-ranging recommendations, 60 in total, have been made under the following headings:
- Equality, diversity and inclusion
- Culture and shared values
- Governance, leadership and management
- Project and programme management
- Customer service and engagement
- Effective communication
- Training and induction
- Risk management
- Health, safety and wellbeing
- Whistleblowing, complaints and grievances
- Overall, the review of evidence provided, including email records and policies and procedures, supports the witnesses’ accounts and the concerns raised.
- There is evidence that psychological harm may have been caused to each of the primary witnesses as a result of their engagement with Drake Music.
- While there is no evidence of any intention to cause harm, it is clear that much more might have been done to prevent it.
- There were failures to identify and meet Disabled people’s access needs and to keep adults at risk safe.
- Witnesses feel let down by an organisation that presents itself as one that ‘breaks down disabling barriers to music’
Reflections and next steps:
As a small but growing organisation, our programmes and activities have increased in volume and impact because of ever-growing demand, however we have failed to invest in organisational infrastructure and support mechanisms at the same rate. We will fully address these issues as a matter of urgency.
The report urges Drake Music not to be daunted by what needs to be done. Whilst some action is required urgently, other recommendations can be phased over time. This work will be treated as a programme in its own right and appropriate management time and resources will be given to it.
Overall, most of the lessons are deceptively simple: clear communication, understanding and removing disabling barriers, taking time to get things right, and following through on agreed actions. We are deeply committed to further improving our practice, approach, and organisational infrastructure, and are embedding the learning from this difficult, but necessary, process.
Moving forward we will use this moment to take stock, undertake stakeholder consultation and carry out some important organisational development work. We will share more info about all of this in January ’22 and commit to being transparent in our approach to meeting the recommendations made.
2021 Challenges and Team Changes – an end-of-year reflection from CEO Carien Meijer