Updates and News

Drake Music update – November 2022

The last 12 months have seen a lot of changes at Drake Music including to our team of staff and associates. Most notably, our longstanding CEO, Carien Meijer stepped down in September 2022. Carien has been truly instrumental in leading Drake Music for nearly two decades and her unique blend of dedication, passion and insight will be impossible to replace. We wish Carien the very best for the future and hope to continue working with her over the coming months and years.

The search is on for our next leader who we very much hope to be in post by the end of March 2023.

While the last year has seen society fully reopening after the height of the COVID pandemic, for some of the people we work with the virus remains a significant health risk and we continue to adapt our work accordingly to keep everyone safe. Together with our partners in the disability arts sector, we are working hard to rebuild a post-COVID, disability arts ecology where disabled people are represented at every level, in every space and every audience.

Our work includes:

  • DM Collective, a three-year artist development programme featuring bursaries and commissions for emerging and more established disabled musicians as well as three part-time, 10-month Artist in Residence positions on Drake Music’s payroll during each year of the programme.
  • Think 22, a Youth Music-funded, strategic music education initiative that provides sector leadership focusing on workforce development and increasing access to and progression routes in music-making for disabled children and young people across England.
  • Tiny Techies, a two-year pilot project, exploring how Drake Music’s innovative, technology-oriented approaches to inclusive music-making can be adapted to positively impact the learning and development of disabled children in the early years. We are partnering with Live Music Now to design and deliver a programme of explorational music-making sessions with disabled children aged 3-5 at Newlands School in Rochdale.

Drake Music has been one of the PRS Foundation’s 50 Talent Development Partners since 2018, recognised for our work at the frontline of creative and talent development. In addition to long-standing, successful partnerships with organisations such as London Philharmonic Orchestra, DaDaFest, Brighter Sound and the British Council, we have started to develop many new partnership initiatives. We now collaborate with the London Sinfonietta and the Irene Taylor Trust on artist development and commissioning opportunities. We also work in partnership with the University of Birmingham on a research project exploring disability in DJ practice.

Next financial year will see the launch of ‘Future Leaders’, a new, three-year Youth Music-funded programme to support and promote inclusive, accessible practice in music-making. Central to this will be increasing the representation of disabled people in the music workforce by developing progression routes, upskilling and providing practical experiences by, with and for young disabled musicians to train as music leaders, project managers, and facilitators.

Drake Music has been an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) for many years and has just had its NPO funding renewed for the next three years: 2023-2026. The funding includes an uplift in investment, specifically to better resource access across our organisation and programmes.

Our priorities over the coming years continue to be:

  • Innovation and experimentation
  • Equality and social justice
  • An ambition to shift and change the music industry to make it more inclusive, diverse, and representative
  • Empowering people to find their own solutions
  • Sector leadership
  • Working flexibly and imaginatively in the digital and physical space

We have also been addressing the recommendations following a whistleblowing investigation in 2021. We recognise we have some way to go before we will have implemented all the recommendations, some of which are by their nature long-term developments.

We have prioritised improving the following:

  • Safeguarding practice, ensuring it is effective
  • Access for disabled musicians, including Deaf people, people who are neurodivergent and people experiencing mental ill health
  • Management reporting and other governance matters such as risk management
  • Improving how we gather and respond to feedback, including queries, compliments and complaints

Finally, we are seeking expressions of interest from people to join our charity’s board of trustees and help us to create our future – including from appropriately experienced people interested to take on the role of Chair of Trustees. If you would like to find out more about these volunteer roles, this please get in touch.


Chas de Swiet, Chair of Trustees and Jenny Manser, Interim CEO

November 2022