Wellbeing Equity Alliance for Musicians working group members meet in the heart of London

Plymouth Music Zone and other key organisations and leading thinkers from across the music industry have been meeting to explore how best to work with others across the music industry to help musicians flourish. The event in London discussed a proposed “Wellbeing Equity Alliance for Musicians” that would consider how all areas of the sector might help create the necessary conditions to embed and promote the “wellbeing equity” of musicians. 

Leaders say the challenge of COVID has amplified existing inequities and dysfunctions within an already precarious industry leading to significant increases in musicians experiencing mental and physical ill health and leaving the profession. This latest initiative has been convened by the pioneering arts and heritage charity, Britten Pears Arts, who have held various Think Tanks to look more deeply at the many issues that have been identified as negatively impacting musicians. 

Plymouth Music Zone’s CEO, Debbie Geraghty, attended the Britten Pears Arts Think Tank held in August 2023, entitled “Musicians Matter”. The group discussed how to embed wellbeing and workplace support for musicians and build greater empowerment across the board to identify what would be needed in terms of advocacy in order to gain ground. What emerged was a vision to create a potential national campaign that would ensure the much needed wellbeing equity for musicians. 

The “Musicians Matter” Think Tank had considered some of the key challenges: 

“Musicians’ wellbeing is intrinsically bound up with questions of equity and social justice. Despite pockets of inspiring progress we see a distressing lack of common cause on these vital topics across music in the UK. We need to come together across the multiple sectors that make up this industry to commit to musician wellbeing, to identify and replicate good practice in wellbeing equity and invest in musicians’ wellbeing”. 

Since then, Plymouth Music Zone has led the first regional Think Tank to further look at these issues within the South West of England. As part of that, PMZ has been sharing its own learning around its inclusive way of working, especially in the area of creative health and wellbeing. PMZ’s CEO Debbie Geraghty was invited to attend the subsequent Inaugural Working Group London event on 12 March that has gone on to explore all these issues further. 

PMZ’s Chief Executive, Debbie Geraghty, says:   

“It was so energising to sit at a table full of amazing leaders from across the sector who fervently believe musician wellbeing should be a top priority.  Plymouth Music Zone is one of many socially engaged arts charities that use music to bring people together in a way that intentionally addresses issues of social and wellbeing equity at the very heart of its mission. Discussions showed that many areas of the music industry might well also benefit from replicating similar musician wellbeing focused practices.  It was clear there’s a strong appetite to imagine an ambitious campaign that could potentially transform the industry to bring full care and dignity to musicians’ working practices. The question is, what would that campaign look like? PMZ can’t wait to play its part in helping shape it.” 

Around the table. PMZ CEO, Debbie Geraghty, with Claire Cordeaux from the British Association of Performing Arts Medicine

Moving forward, the Wellbeing Equity Alliance for Musicians working group members will be inviting others to contribute to the discussions to consider how best to articulate what “wellbeing equity” looks like. The key aim is to ensure people work together to build greater agency for musicians through education, welfare, information, peer learning and access to support advice and guidance. The group members believe attitudinal change could help inspire behaviour change so all musicians can indeed flourish. 

Below is a list of the organisations who attended the event in London. All have important resources to share. Wellbeing Equity Alliance for Musicians – 12 March 2024 Inaugural Working Group members:

  • Katherine Zeserson – Working Group Facilitator
  • Roger Wright – CEO, Britten Pears Arts
  • Caro Barnfield – Director, Music Programme, Britten Pears Arts
  • Angie Lee-Foster – Creative Health Programme Manager, Britten Pears Arts
  • Bridget Whyte –  Music Mark
  • Carol Leeming – Black Lives in Music
  • Claire Cordeaux – BAPAM (British Association of Performing Arts Medicine)
  • Debbie Geraghty – Plymouth Music Zone
  • Jo Laverty – Musicians Union
  • Judith Webster – ABO (Association of British Orchestras)
  • Kitty Whately – SWAP’ra (Supporting Women and Parents in Opera)
  • Lou Platt – The Artist Wellbeing Company
  • Nina Swann – Live Music Now
  • Peter Garden – RLPO (Royal Liverpool Philharmonic)
  • Rose Delcour-Min – Musicians Union
  • Grace Pitkin – Serious
  • Ruth McPherson – ISM (Independent Society of Musicians
  • Sarah Woods – Help Musicians
  • Stuart Darke – ISM (Independent Society of Musicians)