An orchestra that spent 18 months working to make itself more inclusive – resulting in the launch of the first disabled-led ensemble – is to share its practices with other organisations, in an attempt to help drive equality in the industry.
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra spent the past year and a half on a project known as BSO Change Makers, which led to a training placement for a disabled conductor, the launch of disabled-led ensemble BSO Resound, and training for all of its staff in disability awareness.
Following this, it saw a 20% increase to the number of disabled audience members, with its own employees stating they had more understanding about disability than before the project began.
Now, the BSO is launching the Programme for Cultural Change, which will offer all organisations – not just those in the arts – the chance to “explore and implement true inclusion for disabled people”.
Through this, it will work with other companies to help them become places where disabled people are openly welcomed as visitors and staff, and to enable them to identify new talent. Companies will also be supported in helping their own employees become more confident when working with disabled people.
BSO chief executive Dougie Scarfe said: “In the broader cultural sector, there is a real pressing need to diversity the leadership in our world, to provide role models and progression pathways.”
He added: “We want to use this moment to encourage businesses to embrace having a more diverse leadership and the cultural change that needs to happen in order to reflect in a company the society in which we live.”
Lisa Tregale, head of BSO Participate, said the programme was aimed at “empowering teams to be fearless” and helping them not be scared to ask what might be perceived as “difficult questions”.
“There is a lot of fear and a lot of unknowns in companies – fear that you might offend, but actually it’s about being confident in the way you do it,” she said.