On 5 May, there are local elections in many local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales. When your local candidates come knocking, you may want to talk to them about your music group.
Below we have put together some asks you could pass on to your candidates: issues at a local level we have become aware of through contact with members. Use them if relevant in your area and adapt them as necessary.
Some general thoughts:
- Be specific. Talk about your group/concerts/participants, namecheck your rehearsal space or performance venue
- Have some figures to hand about your group – e.g. how many members, how many events a year, how many in your audience
- Put an info sheet together about your group to give to candidates (with a free ticket to your next concert?)
Spaces for music making and performance are essential for music groups. Groups need rehearsal and performance spaces that are fit for purpose, financially and physically accessible, and with suitable transport links. Post-pandemic, it has become even harder than before to find such spaces, especially with adequate ventilation.
1. What is the candidate/their party doing to ensure existing community buildings (halls etc.) are maintained and new spaces built for new housing developments?
2. Can they ensure that costs are kept reasonable and concessions given for non-commercial groups? (particularly relevant for Local Authorities where venues have been handed over to Culture trusts)
3. How will the candidate/their party support safe transport links for community activity? Will timetables be maintained/extended into the evening? What about bus stop/car park safety, street lighting, bike lanes etc.?
Sheet music available locally and affordably
This has, in the past, been provided via the public library network, including via Inter Library Loans from other authorities, but recently this service has often been cut.
4. What are the candidate and their party doing to maintain/restart/support such a service in the local public library?
Music groups can help revitalise public spaces from bandstands to town squares with regular (e.g. every Saturday) or occasional performances, e.g. annual festivals.
5. Can the candidate and their party help streamline the licensing requirements and paperwork booking systems for volunteer-run music groups, to facilitate their public appearances and contribution to civic life?
Recognise value of leisure-time music and include in strategy
The value of music groups
For participants, benefits include:
- Physical and mental well-being
- Social connections, counteracting isolation and loneliness, building new social capital across socio-economic and cultural divides
- Educational: continuous learning, soft skills (e.g. teamwork), confidence
- Empowerment through self-governed activity
For audiences and communities, benefits include:
- Access to live music locally and affordably
- Contribution to regeneration and place-making, e.g. festivals
- Support for the local economy (music shops, venue hire, hospitality etc.)
- Fundraising for local causes, e.g. hospices etc.
6. Are the candidate/their party considering community music activity across departments, e.g. health, culture, economy, social care, education etc.?
7. Does their culture or arts strategy include support for non-professional and professional music organisations? (Not grants - could be venues, Local Authority staff time to support and promote etc.)
Download this free poster to show others what you will be voting for in the local elections: