UK’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama to Host Conference

Called “Strengthening Music In Society,” the event will enable music professionals to share their research on the social impacts of performing arts

Theatre at Milton Court, Guildhall School of Music and Drama


Taking place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama on December 16, 2021, the “Strengthening Music In Society” conference will be chaired and facilitated by Jess Gillam MBE, award-winning saxophonist, broadcaster, and Guildhall School alumna.

The conference is convened by the Institute for Social Impact Research in the Performing Arts in collaboration with Conservatoires UK, European Association of Conservatoires (AEC), and SEMPRE.

The event will focus on an AEC-commissioned report written by Helena Gaunt, principal of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, in addition to other professionals in high music education.

For those working in the music sector, this event marks the first opportunity to respond to this report, highlighting higher music education from "dual perspectives: educating the next generations of professional musicians, and higher music institutions’ (HMEIs) engagement in society."

The report features main themes that have emerged from the international four-year AEC project “‘Strengthening Music in Society” from 2017 to 2021. Gaunt will provide an opening keynote address to underline the implications of these themes for the UK in particular — to which six invited respondents from across the music sector will provide critical perspectives, followed by a discussion session. 

Respondents comprise Ankna Arockiam, Diana Salazar, Graham Welch, Linda Begbie, Gillian Moore, and James Njoku-Goodwin, who work in various areas of the music industry and will provide a diverse range of perspectives. 

This event was in part brought about by the challenges posed by Brexit and COVID-19, and in response to social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter and #MeToo. 

These global social changes will be at the heart of discussing purpose and identity in the music sector — plus progressive and inclusive directions needed to support performance excellence and its relevance in 21st-century society.   

“This will be an important opportunity, in what we hope will be the wake of the pandemic, for key representatives from UK conservatoires and the wider music industry to meet in person and work on current and future directions,” said Gaunt and John Sloboda, professor at the Guildhall School. 

“Many challenges facing the sector are longstanding, and the last 18 months has increased the urgency to resolve them,” they continued. “We feel privileged to be able to contribute an internationally informed stimulus for the sharpest collaborative thinking and problem-solving that our sector can muster.”

Sign up to attend in person or online here. A public livestream will also be available showcasing key sections of the day. 

For more information, click here.