Research & Development Consultant/ Programme Leader


Information for applicants, including role outline and how to apply.


Drake Music is the leading national organisation working in music, disability and technology.

Our vision
Non-disabled people can make music in many ways and at many different levels. Our vision is a world where disabled people have the same range of opportunities as their non-disabled peers. We want a culture of inclusive music-making, where disabled and non-disabled musicians collaborate as equals.

Who we are
Drake Music is a national arts charity with offices in Bristol, Manchester and London. We work with a diverse and experienced team of staff and associate musicians/ technologists to deliver our programmes across England and beyond. We work with people of all ages and break down barriers to music-making through the use of technology.

We deliver our activities across four inter-connecting programme strands:

• Arts & Collaboration
• Research & Development
• Learning & Participation
• Training & Consultancy

We have been pioneering the use of accessible music technology for over 25 years. We have developed lots of innovative and imaginative approaches to teaching, learning and making music.

We are a National Portfolio Organisation for Arts Council England and a Youth Music Fund C grant holder.

What we do
Central to our work is the belief that everyone can fulfill their creative and musical potential, given the right opportunities. We work where music, disability and technology meet to:

  • create opportunities and instruments that make music fully accessible
  • increase participation in music-making at all levels
  • build an inclusive musical culture, where disabled and non-disabled musicians work together as equals


Six years ago, we began an experiment. We set out to explore how technology and the maker movement could link with accessibility in music. Since then we have nurtured disabled musician/maker communities through our DMLabs in the North West and London.

We have developed new accessible instruments and curated a wide range of initiatives including Hackathons and schools’ projects. We have also presented at conferences both in the UK and abroad.

Under the visionary leadership of Gawain Hewitt our Research & Development programme gained an excellent reputation. It is known for celebrating creativity, invention and experimentation. It is also known for being Disabled artist-led.  Over the years, much knowledge and many ideas emerged. They informed and shaped the co-creation of several bespoke instruments, including the Kellycaster and Rose Conducting Baton.

Key achievements since the programme began in 2012:

  • Hosted more than 80 monthly hackmeets in London and Manchester, supporting a community of disabled musicians & makers
  • Run six successful hackathons with the following partners:
    • Furtherfield
    • Goldsmiths University as part of NIME (New Instruments for Musical Expression)
    • Southbank Centre as part of the Web We Want Festival
    • Queen Mary University of London in partnership with C4DM (the Centre for Digital Music)
    • Southbank Centre, supported & funded by the British Council and running alongside Unlimited Festival
  • DMLab NW Challenge
  • Partnered with Imogen Heap’s Mi.Mu Gloves team. Our Associate Kris Halpin is one of the most visible users of this technology, using it as accessible music technology.
  • Combined experimental instrument design with our expertise in workshop-leading, resulting in profound new experiences of what accessibility can mean in this setting when bespoke design is factored in.
  • Supported the development of notable new instruments including:
    • The Kellycaster – John Kelly’s design for an accessible guitar
    • Rose Conducting Baton for James Rose, enabling his work with the Academy of Music and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
    • Various interactive instruments for Planted Symphony outdoor event
    • An accessible violin
    • A laser harp for Hannah Shelmerdine, featured by BBC Radio 5
    • A standalone switch system for use in workshops
    • A vibrating speaker for use in workshops
    • Musical Tupperware with vibration feedback for use in school workshops.

For more information about our R&D programme, please visit the Technology pages of the website.


We are looking for creative consultants/ thought leaders to be part of our team. We want you to bring new perspectives, fresh thinking and diverse networks to our organisation and our work. You may be an individual, duo or collective.

We particularly welcome proposals from Disabled practitioners, or groups which include Disabled members.

You will be interested in investigating how we can maximise the impact of our R&D programme. You will engage with creatives, technologists and makers locally, nationally and internationally.

You will ensure that our work remains at the cutting edge of accessible music-making and instrument design. Alongside this, you will curate and oversee the delivery of several R&D activities.

You will be a strategic thinker and innovator. You will have a deep knowledge of music, technology and art. Being passionate about the creative possibilities and solutions technology has to offer in removing disabling barriers is a must.


This is a freelance opportunity until the end of December 2019 initially. We are, however, fully committed to ongoing delivery of, and investment in, this programme area, subject to funding.

Timeline: January – December 2019
Location: Flexible but a regular presence in our London office is essential.
Budget: we are looking for proposals which will not exceed £9,000 including any VAT and expenses (DM will cover travel & accommodation expenses when working on location)
Expected number of days: 45

Key Aims

  • Ensure that the R&D programme is Disabled artist-led and underpinned by the Social Model of Disability.
  • Strengthen Drake Music’s place in the music & arts sector as innovators in music, disability and technology.


  • Curate/host a minimum of 9 hackmeets over the period of the brief.
  • Development of DMLab NW, in collaboration with the freelance Project Manager to formulate an action plan.
  • Programme Design for the coming years – Create new spaces and opportunities with our DMLab communities to collaborate, share ideas and expertise and create new instruments.
  • Active engagement with the artist/maker communities via social media and face-to-face
  • Creative use of digital tools to document and share the development of instruments, ideas and projects.


  • Support, nurture and develop the DMLab communities.
  • Relaunch DMLab London, curating regular hackmeets at venues across the capital.
  • Investigate the scope, options and opportunities for programme development. Make recommendations to the Senior Leadership Team about the potential for strategic, creative and business development in DM R&D.
  • Ensure that this work is closely informed by, and feeds into, our Learning & Participation, Training and Artistic Programmes.
  • Oversee and embed our R&D in schools’ projects, working closely with relevant DM Associates.
  • Oversee the design and delivery of Artist/Maker residencies.
  • Advise the DM team on current and emerging thinking and opportunities in accessible instrument design and digital technologies.
  • Develop and nurture R&D partnerships, locally, nationally and internationally.
  • Act as a DM advocate. Promoting our vision and practice and present our work at conferences and events in the UK and abroad.
  • Identify opportunities for income generation. Input into major funding bids, as and when appropriate.

Skills and Experience

  • An established track record as a leader in the field of music/art and technology.
  • Awareness and understanding of the Social Model of Disability.
  • Deep commitment to Disability Equality and social justice.
  • Proven experience of working with a diverse range of people and organisations, both nationally and internationally.
  • Curious, flexible and open-minded. Up to speed with the latest developments in technology and maker culture in particular,
  • Committed to documenting, sharing and evaluating the impact of our R&D work.



Interested in taking on this strategic and curatorial assignment? We’d love to hear what you would bring to Drake Music and our R&D programme to make it flourish and develop.

We are interested in your approach to ensuring that our work remains relevant, innovative, experimental and Disabled artist-led.

Your proposal needs to clearly address this. Please also outline how you would connect R&D to our participatory, training and artistic programmes to ensure cohesion and make accessible instruments & technologies more widely available.

How to apply

Please send a CV and a proposal to

This can be text OR we welcome alternative media formats (e.g. video/audio/graphical), if that works better for you. Please ensure they are no longer than 10 minutes.

The deadline is midnight, Sunday 9th December 2018.

Meetings to explore and discuss your proposal and ideas will be held at our office in Shoreditch on Monday 17th December.

If you would like an informal conversation with Carien Meijer, our CEO, please call the office on 020 7739 5444 to arrange a time/date or email