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Alex Gascoine, a white man with grey hair smiles into the camera. He is leaning against a white wall and wearing a mint green shirt.

How can we build an inclusive trade union and music industry? MU members from across the UK came together in Leeds in October 2022 to answer that question.

In his speech opening the union’s second Members’ Conference, Chair of the MU Executive Committee Alex Gascoine started by confirming the union’s commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.

Alex’s Speech in Full

“Welcome to Leeds and the first MU's conference concentrating on equality, diversity and inclusion.

“My name’s Alex Gascoine, I am a violinist at the BBC’s Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and I am the chair of the MU’s Executive Committee.

“Equality, diversity and inclusion must be at the heart of everything we do. We need to represent every musician, whatever they are and whatever they do. And the MU needs to lead by example.

Real change requires investment in time and money

“Our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Plan publicly shows our commitment to changing the conversation on disability, to actively encourage greater participation in our union, to make the union more diverse and accessible, and to commit to engaging with underrepresented members. The plan makes the commitment publicly. It is measurable, and it makes us accountable.

“As Chair of our EC, I also feel firmly that real change requires investment in time and money. At every EC meeting I have attended in the last ten years, there is always an EDI discussion. The EC fully supports the great work that John Shortell and his Committee and networks do for us.

“In recognition of John’s work, the EC recently agreed to invest in his department and fund a new post. It’s my great pleasure to introduce to Conference Dr Diljeet Bhachu who is our new EDI Officer. I have known Diljeet for many years, and I know the extraordinary knowledge and support she will bring to the MU. And she will work out of our office in Glasgow, which is fantastic.

Working collectively to tackle issues together

“We need to ensure the MU is not just diverse but inclusive – diversifying our membership and our committees is a long-term project and one that we are fully committed to.

“These steps are all working towards making sure that the MU represents all musicians, whoever they are and wherever they work. Our members and our staff need to feel safe, safe to raise these issues and know they will be listened to. This conference is part of our ongoing commitment to our members. Even if we don’t belong to a community or are as impacted directly by certain issues, we will work collectively to tackle issues together.

“On behalf of myself and the Executive Committee, my sincere thanks to John Shortell and his team, and Naomi Pohl, Jane Austin and Keith Ames for organising this venue. My thanks also to our speakers and panelists, and also to Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire. Thank you all for coming today, I hope you have a great conference.

“Nearly all your Executive Committee are here, so please come and talk to us, tell us what you think, and tell us what you want us to do. This is our union; let us work together in listening to our members and supporting them wherever and whoever they are.”

Catch up with more highlights from Members’ Conference, watch the movie, and get involved in the union’s work for equality, diversity and inclusion in our dedicated Members Conference hub.

Thanks to

Alexander Gascoine

Alex has been a violinist in the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra for 33 years, and a member of the MU’s EC for 13. In his work as Chair of the EC since January 2022, Chair of the MU’s Orchestra Section and Chair of the MU’s BBC Orchestras Committee, Alex has been at the centre of national negotiations ensuring that musicians’ voices are not only heard but, more importantly, listened to. Alex has represented the MU at many International Federation of Musicians (FIM) conferences and events, highlighting the challenges faced by UK musicians. He has also been able to ensure that the MU supports its members working nationally and internationally, leading the creation of the new role of “Head of International”. By working together, building relationships and ensuring musicians are listened to, Alex believes that the MU can support its members in facing the challenges that lie ahead. Alex has also contributed to programmes on BBC TV, Radio 3 and BBC Scotland.

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