The national music charity does its part to confront and redress racial imbalances within the music industry with significant changes to its governance and beyond

  • Music for Youth is implementing systemic changes to champion diversity, inclusivity and equalityin its 50th year, beginning with the appointments of four new board members, 3 of whom are women and 2 of whom are people of colour
  • The charity has named the four new members of its board: Arfa Butt, Music & Talent Director; Samantha Spence, the Assistant Head of Service at Ealing Music Service; Simon Bull,a performer and associate brass teacher with Richmond Music Trust who also works in fundraising and business development; and Liz Hutchinson, Director of Communications for the British Academy
  • Elsewhere in its recommitment to mobilise social change, the charity is creating more opportunities and spaces for young people from diverse groups with immediate effect
  • The first of these opportunities comes in the form of Music for Youth’s Digital Festival,Elevate, which will run from 7 to 11 July 2020 and will celebrate the kaleidoscope of multi-disciplinary music-making from Britain’s talented young people today. The digital festival will work to emphasize the importance of innovation and creativity from young people irrespective of background or circumstances, and will set the bar for the charity’s future progression as it continues to transform young lives through music
  • Speaking of Music for Youth’s new board members, CEO of Music for Youth, Judith Webster said:

“We now have 20% of our board who are people of colour, and this is significant because they are senior positions and this will inevitably have an impact on the depth of conversation we are able to engage in, stemming from the top of the organisation. This is a significant moment for us, as it will enable us to progress and be even more inclusive.Conversations need to include all the right voices around the table in order to influence how the organisation moves forward.For young people to be attracted to the organisation, they need to be able to see people like themselves in decision making positions and across the delivery team.’

  • On the subject of Music for Youth’s ongoing commitment to champion diversity,Judith Webster also said:

“Music for Youth works with a very large number of people; we reach 40,000 people a year and inclusion is at the heart of our policy. However, we recognise that the systems that underpin our programme are more appealing and accessible to some people than others. For this reason, we are continually striving to improve the representation of the young people who actively making music, wherever they are doing that and whoever they are. Lockdown has given us an opportunity to review how we reach out to young people who are underrepresented in our programme to date. We want to give them more of a voice than they may have previously had. We are prioritising conversations with young people, teachers and music leaders so we are ensuring our future digital offerings are tailored to their needs and how we can best support them.”

  • Speaking of what they think a more diverse board will bring to Music for Youth, the new board members said: 
  • ‘I’ve recently attended my first trustee meeting and it was evident from our discussions how valuable it will be for the charity to have on hand such a range of backgrounds, professions and experiences as it moves forward. I’ve already learnt a huge amount from my fellow trustees and from hearing about all the fantastic work of the team at Music for Youth and we are only just getting started!’ – Liz Hutchinson
  • “Representation matters. I was offered my first role at MTV at the age of 19; as a young Muslim woman of colour working in the music industry in the 90’s I didn’t know anyone like me, I didn’t have anyone to call, someone who understood the many challenges I faced on a personal level because of the new environment or who could have supported my professional development. It was often a lonely experience. I feel a diverse board /work space shouldn’t just be about visible diversity, it should be about creating a safe environment where people from different cultures and communities can actually challenge each other constructively and bring different ideas to the table and learn.I hope my presence on the MFY Board will encourage more women of colour to feel comfortable joiningcreative boards.” – Arfa Butt
  • “Board diversity means there will be different perspectives and voices in the room, which will translate into even better decision-making and governance for the charity.” – Simon Bull
  • “Diversity of thought comes from utilizing the views and opinions of a broad range of people. I think a more diverse board will not only ensure representation at a higher level but also demonstrate MFY’s commitment to diversity and inclusion from grass roots to the very top.” – Samantha Spence
  • The digital festival Elevate will consist of the following strands: Live at 5hosted by MFY Ambassador Jack Pepper and Remel London;#illuminate which shines a spotlight on 5 emerging young artists; Your Music, Your Voice, a series of discussions led by young people on topics of importance to them; and Forward Focus: Music Education Post COVID-19.
  • More information on Elevate, which will take place on Music for Youth’s YouTube channel, is available here






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