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Meet the Members Leading Conversations at the MU Members’ Conference 2022

Our members are always at the heart of what we do, and in this feature we highlight some of those leading the conversation on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion issues and how they impact musicians.

Published: 06 October 2022 | 2:33 PM
Banner for the MU Members' Conference 2022, picture of a young violinist performing in the background with a yellow banner reading
Each breakout session is led by members, for members, with support from specialist organisations and MU staff - all focusing on practical ways of making change.

When you register to come to Members’ Conference, you’ll have the chance to sign up for breakout sessions.

Each session is led by members, for members, with support from specialist organisations and MU staff – all focusing on practical ways of making change. That could be a new policy, position statement, campaign ideas or points for a lobbying agenda.

Here's a brief introduction to some of the members who will be leading sessions at conference, where to find them, and why the MU Members Conference is important to them in their own words.

Getting young professional musicians engaged with union activity

Lynn Henderson is a member of the MU EDI committee and has previously been on the TUC Women's committee. She focuses her work on championing representation in choices around performers and programming.

She describes the importance of engagement with union activity:

“It's important to get young professional musicians engaged with union activity and to make them aware of the vital work the MU does to champion them and make change on a large scale.”

Lynn will be leading the discussion on 'LGBT+ visibility: Creating LGBT+ inclusive workplaces' which will take place on day-one of the Conference, Monday 17 October 2022, and will also feature Jamie Ahye (Pride in Music).

A performing and teaching career while pregnant can be overwhelming

MU member Cecilia De Maria is a freelance harpist, Sony recording artist and full-time mother. She discusses the importance of supporting parents through a difficult but also wonderful time of their lives:

“Having wanted children since I can remember, the reality of continuing my busy performing and teaching career once I found out I was pregnant was overwhelming. I experienced pregnancy discrimination and am constantly discovering new complications of being a freelance musician whilst bringing up a baby.

The more we talk about it, the more I feel solutions can be found, supporting parents through a difficult but also wonderful time of their lives.

Cecilia will be leading the breakout session on "Tackling the parenting and caring issue: How do we address the lack of protection and provision for parents and carers in the music industry?", which will take place on day-one of the Conference, Monday 17 October 2022.

The breakout session will also feature Cassie Raine (Parents & Carers in Performing Arts) and Olga Fitzroy (Parental Pay Equality).

Creating a voice for musicians and identifying change

MU Executive Committee member Millicent Stephenson will be leading the breakout session on "How can the music industry break the culture of silence on menopause?"

Millicent Stephenson is an multi-award-winning saxophonist with features on TV, radio, journals and books. She runs a successful Youtube channel and gives guidance on building a music career through her podcast ‘Success Beyond The Score’, her online training courses, and her women in music project ‘Time For My Music’.

She comments on how, whilst discussion around menopause is growing, little is said about how it impacts musicians:

The impact of menopause is becoming more recognised, yet very little is said about how it affects the work of musicians. This session is necessary for creating a voice for musicians and identifying the changes needed in the industry.

The breakout session on menopause will take place on day-two of the Conference, Tuesday 18 October 2022. The session will also feature Alison Foster (Trade Union Studies Coordinator).

Millicent is an Executive Committee member of the MU and you can read her feature blog post ‘The Journey of a Menopausal Musician’ here.

The discussion around gender and music is still needed

MU Member Isobel Anderson will be leading the breakout session on "Moving towards gender equality". She describes how important it is to have this discussion:

The MU is one of the most important music organisations in the UK and the discussion around gender and music is ever evolving and still needed.

Between her 20+ years making, performing and producing music, a PhD in Sonic Arts and a passion for creating supportive music tech education spaces for women, Isobel Anderson’s career embraces a sense of independence and experimentation. Isobel is proud to produce and host the critically acclaimed feminist music tech podcast, Girls Twiddling Knobs.

The breakout session Isobel is leading on "Moving towards gender equality: How can the MU tackle the barriers that limit women in the music industry?" will take place on day-two of the Conference, Tuesday 18 October 2022. The discussion will feature Nadia Khan (Women in CTRL), Christine Osazuwa (She Said So) and Francine Gorman (Keychange).

Everyone should have access to music

MU Member Andrew Lansley is a Double bassist in Thrill Collins, Innovation Manager for Cheltenham Festivals, Facilitator of the Cheltenham Culture Board and Senior Academic at the University of Gloucestershire.

He described his personal mission behind driving conversations:

I think everyone should have access to music and I will spend the rest of my life trying to improve this for others. I have no idea why I feel like this, I just do.

Andrew will be leading a breakout conversation on day-two of the conference, on “Access for disabled musicians: How do we ensure access riders are industry standard and that musicians access needs are being met?” The session will feature Suzanne Bull (Attitude is Everything) and Thursa Sanderson (Drake Music).

Elderly people are often silenced

Fiona Branson is a disabled actor-musician with over 40 years experience performing in bands, as a solo artiste, and in music, theatre and tv. She has a micro-record label with music on release online.

Fiona talks about her passion for calling proper attention to the voices of older people:

I have worked with elderly people since I was young, and believe that older people deserve our consideration and attention, as my experience teaches me they/we are often mothballed or silenced.

Fiona will be leading the breakout session “Ageism and the music industry: What support do older musicians need from the industry to sustain their careers and health?” on day-one of the Conference. The session will feature Virginia Tandy (Creative Ageing Development Agency).

MU Members’ Conference 17-18 October, Leeds

Connect with MU members from across the UK and discuss the issues that matter to you at this year's MU Members' Conference. Sign up for one or both days and help build a more inclusive trade union and music industry. Register now to secure your free place at the event.

Book your place 

Join the MU's work for equality in music

Be sure your voice is heard - and help make the music industry a better place for every musician. At the MU we stand for equal opportunities and inclusion for musicians, and aim for the industry to be more diverse and representative.

Be a changemaker 

Learn what we do to make the industry inclusive and diverse, and how you can get involved in making a change.

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Join the MU's work for equality in music

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