Saturday 26 June, at Zoom

Online Conference: Where now for ‘early’ music?

Zoom conference for all involved in the UK early music sector, Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 June 2021

Date & Time: Saturday 26 June,

Available Until: Sunday 27 June

Ticket price: Free

Venue: Zoom

Early Music in Britain is currently facing an existential crisis as never before. The triple whammy of the Pandemic, Brexit and Climate Change now sit atop a situation that was already becoming critical.

We invite all of those involved in the early music sector to join us for a free 2-day online conference in which we can pool ideas to find positive solutions both to the economic and artistic challenges facing us for 2021 and beyond. As well as those working in the sector, there will also be limited spaces for interested observers.


1. Increasing Diversity

  • What is the role of music in education and education in music? Does digital give us opportunities here? How can we make sure that our work is reaching the children who really need it especially from diverse backgrounds, and help support music teachers?
  • Expanding the scope of ‘early’ music to include traditional music from a range of non-Western cultures and to encourage a growing cross-cultural conversation between artists and audiences.
  • Expanding the reach of early music to potential audiences, emphasising its vast range and variety and connection to diverse cultures. How do we break the ‘it is not for me’ attitude and ensure that our audience are as culturally and ethnically diverse as possible?
  • Increasing diversity amongst performers. How can music colleges broaden their offer, which focuses so much on baroque? How can we encourage a broad range of people to consider this field as a specialism?

2. The Digital Future

  • There is a whole world of possibilities online that we have barely begun to tap into. How can we best use the existing infrastructure (which was not designed for classical music) to maximise our reach and engagement?
  • What have we learned in 2020? Sharing examples of things that have worked, and experiments that haven’t. Do we need a directory of people working in this area – eg. talented videographers who really ‘get’ classical music.

3. The Future of Live Music

  • Even before Covid our model of loss-making live events and one-off touring dates was beginning to look unsustainable. Is there a better way to build a future? What are the funding and logistical challenges?
  • How will larger venues return to stability after Covid? How can performers, promoters and venues help each other? Is there an opportunity for a new type of venue to streamline touring in Britain?
  • What is the future for touring post-Brexit? How can we overcome some of the immediate logistical issues and retain important ties with our friends and neighbours without returning to a climate-busting model?
  • The funding climate is even more challenging than it was before 2020? Do arts organisations need to become more commercial? How can we navigate this new landscape?

4. Climate and Ecological

  • How can we minimise and mitigate the impact of our activities on the climate? Aside from touring, can we look at minimising our impact through eco-printing and sustainable practices in all event-related fields?
  • Should we be considering environmental aims as an artistic as well as a logistical challenge? Is this something we can reflect in our programming?

5. Effective Marketing

  • Seeking better ways at promoting ourselves as musicians/ensembles/festivals in the existing digital space and exploring new technology and new platforms.
  • Social media can be a great way of connecting directly with audiences regularly but is it a double-edged sword? Where are our audiences on social media and what content do they value?
  • Spreading the word – ‘early’ music covers at least 1000 years of music of all types and much of it doesn’t even fall within the period of music covered by ‘classical’ so we have a great ‘product’ to sell. How can we get away from the ‘beards and sandals’ image?!

6. Conclusions and Next Steps

  • What are the solutions and how can we find them together? Do we need to establish regular idea-sharing opportunities or ‘working groups’?
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