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Solidarity, Music Education and Championing Music on the Agenda on First Day of MU Delegate Conference 2023

A packed first day of MU Delegate Conference including inspiring speeches and important policy decisions on the big issues facing musicians today.

Published: 25 July 2023 | 6:13 PM
Delegate conference attendees sit at tables in a bright room.
“From highlighting the short sightedness of arts funding cuts to fighting for a fairer music streaming system, the MU remains as relevant as ever.” Photo credit: Musicians’ Union

The first day of MU Delegate Conference 2023 saw a range of motions put forward by members and policy was accepted on issues as broad as lobbying for arts funding, protecting BBC Introducing, advocating for instrumental music tuition, and informing members about photo ID for voting purposes.

A motion on the importance of music education was brilliantly moved by delegate Katrina Lee. Delegates made passionate speeches in support of the motion, highlighting the impact that music can have on young people and society as a whole. Conference noted that music education was more under threat than ever, and reiterated its determination to campaign to fight for access to music tuition for all and better terms and conditions for peripatetic teachers.

Delegates also viewed a video address by Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Lucy Powell, who thanked the MU for contributing to Labour Party policy

Championing music and musicians 

Day one of MU Delegate Conference also saw inspiring speeches from MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl, TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak and Roger Wilson from Black Lives in Music. 

In her opening speech, Naomi ran through latest developments from the recent strike ballot at the Royal Opera House to operational improvements in the union. "It is a challenging time for all musicians and we know our members have been through incredibly tough times over the past few years. However, we are making progress in negotiations, campaigning and lobbying and we are improving what we do for members all the time," she said.  

General Secretary of the TUC Paul Nowak addressed delegates in the morning, praising the MU for fighting for its members during the pandemic and since: "From championing music education to exposing the scandal of musicians being asked to work for free and from highlighting the short sightedness of arts funding cuts to fighting for a fairer music streaming system, the MU remains as relevant as ever." 

He extended the hand of trade union solidarity to MU members and workers everywhere, saying, "Your fight is our fight and when you win, we win. It’s time to invest in music, it’s time to invest in musicians and it’s time to invest in our economic future." 

Driving change for every musician

Roger Wilson, co-founder of Black Lives in Music, was the afternoon guest speaker and detailed some of the work that was currently taking place across the education and orchestral sectors as part of our three-year partnership.

He was clear that real change was happening, telling delegates, "Let me be clear - this is not about ticking boxes, it’s about saying what we’ve achieved and what we’re going to do next. Together we can drive change."

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