Ian Burton, the CEO of Nottingham Music Service, answers the question: 'Why should a Music Education Hub become strategically involved in a Cultural Education Partnership?'.
ChalleNGe is Nottingham’s Cultural Education Partnership (CEP). It champions the rights of every child and young person in the City to create and consume culture in the world around them. Our vision is that every child and young person in the City should have rich experiences of being cultural producers and critical consumers of cultural activities in their schools, homes and communities. These experiences should foster a curiosity for learning and a personal, meaningful relationship with the City, its history, its many diverse cultures, its stories and its social and cultural life.
The CEP is a clear expansion of the Music Education Hub (MEH) model and as such it feels essential for the MEH to be closely involved. We believe in the concept and have substantial expertise in promoting inclusive access to culture and creativity: there is real synergy with the aims of the CEP, promoting inclusive access more widely. The CEP also benefits the MEH by raising awareness of MEH initiatives and it is valuable for these to be seen as part of the City’s wider cultural offer. One advantage to being involved at a strategic level at an early stage is that the CEP has, rather than re-inventing the wheel, started by identifying successful initiatives in the City, considering how these are integrated at the CEPs core, to be built on for the future.
In the early stages the MEH was a model for genuinely engaging with young people from across the City’s demographic and bringing diverse partners together for the development of the wider CEP. We suggested that the CEP was called ChalleNGe - this seems important, to be perceived as an active ‘challenge’, more than a static ‘partnership’.
The MEH have highlighted that there is a need to gain knowledge and understanding of barriers to participation in order to overcome them and supported the need to start the CEP from solid data, to know who is engaging and ensuring that we genuinely know that it is those from the City who are.
As a MEH we already have strong relationships with the majority of schools/academies in Nottingham. This has provided an initial set of data for engagement and enabled some quick wins and ‘presence’. For example, the MEH’s Great Orchestra Experiment, attended by almost half of the primary schools in the City, was branded as a ChalleNGe event, with an introduction to the CEP built in to resource packs.
It is still early days, but ChalleNGe has started to have an impact in several ways. MEH initiatives are built into the CEP Opportunity Notts programme (a local version of the ‘100 things to do before you are 11’ model). This has the potential to create wider awareness of MEH initiatives, plus the chance for young people to gain accreditation.
The CEP has started to raise the profile of the MEH locally and increased networking opportunities with a wider range of local partners. ChalleNGe has developed the newsletter ‘Culture News’ to highlight the activity happening across the City. ChalleNGe has strengthened the links between the MEH and partner organisations, especially the Creative Quarter, the city Young Creative Awards, as well as increasing the strategic engagement with The Mighty Creatives (the local Bridge organisation).
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