Get out of your (comfort) zone!

Making Music Chief Executive, Barbara Eifler travelled to Novi Sad in Serbia to attend the Amateo awards ceremony and brought back more than just pretty pictures.

In my spare time (yeah, right) I sit on some Boards as Trustee, and one of them is that of Amateo, the European Network for Active Participation in Cultural Activities. I feel lucky to have been entrusted with this task not only because I get to visit some places I would otherwise never get to visit (recently Serbia), but also because I get to meet colleagues from other European countries and to reflect on the differences and similarities on the nature and status of leisure-time music across a range of cultures. I also get to look at Making Music afresh, by learning what other associations are doing, what issues or interesting research they have, how they are supported (or not) by their political and funding structures.

Irish Video Game Orchestra, Amateo, Making Music UK

Amateo Award finalists and Making Music member group, the Irish Video Game Orchestra

My time for Making Music is always crammed full, so I take my European expeditions as annual leave appreciating their benefit to me personally. Now two years in I have realised I am starting to bring back outcomes for Making Music members too. As Amateo’s membership grows (now 45 organisations from 18 countries), it gives me an opportunity to start conversations with ever more organisations interested in looking to connect their community groups across borders to others like them. For UK groups, this is not always easy with little, if any, funding for this sort of thing - but think of the benefits! As every group leader who has undertaken a tour will tell you, these experiences can be life-changing, enabling the group to interact with those from other cultures in a different manner than as a tourist, strengthening and stretching the group artistically and socially.

For me, I return home refreshed and with renewed energy, having found out that Spanish amateur orchestras are full to bursting and have no recruitment issues (how? why?); that Slovenian associations have conducted interesting research on member services; and that men are as rare in Dutch as in UK mixed choirs. Plus, of course, there’s all the learning about the sometimes weird and wonderful local folk music and on this occasion, Novi Sad’s Petrovaradin Fortress, the beach on the Danube, and the region’s vast range of sausages and extraordinary cakes; I suppose I might mention the beer, wine and spirits, too...

If your group is interested in European opportunities sign up to the Amateo newsletter, put yourself forward for its annual award (Making Music member the Irish Video Game Orchestra were one of the five shortlisted finalists this year!), or get in touch.


Making Music has a resource (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) on organising a tour, and corporate members Club Europe Tours, Acfea Tour Consultants, Travelbound, Rayburn Tours and One Stage are always happy to help.