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Member Focus: How small charity Making Music is fine-tuning to support musicians during Covid

As part of #SmallCharityWeek, we speak to Helen Evans, Finance Director of Making Music, about the vital work the charity is doing to ensure musicians continue to make music during the pandemic, and the financial challenges and opportunities this small charity now face.

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Helen Evans Making Music

Helen Evans, Finance Director, Making Music

 

Please tell us about Making Music and what you do...

We’re the UK’s membership organisation for leisure-time music groups. Our 3,500+ member groups across all musical genres represent 200,000 musicians and promoters of all levels of experience.

We support a wide range of groups – from symphony orchestras, community choirs, jazz bands to local festivals – by providing them with practical services, guidance, artistic development opportunities and a collective voice for lobbying.

We help them run their group, so they can get on with making music!

 

Crouch End Festival Chorus

We believe everyone should have the opportunity to make and present their kind of music with others. The benefits of music making are well documented and varied: the learning, the dedication, the focus on your craft, the social and wellbeing benefits of music making camaraderie…

All of this is at the heart of what Making Music stands for. Above all, it’s about taking the chance to have fun and express yourself with those who share your musical passion.

During the pandemic, we’ve enhanced our offering to interpret the latest Covid guidance for groups and created many Covid-specific resources to help meet groups’ needs through these unprecedented times.

Our resources range from tips on livestreaming to help members upskill and make music together digitally, to risk assessment templates that ensure they can meet up safely in person – a real melting pot of ideas and solutions.

We’ve also hosted regular Virtual Concerts – a platform to showcase the wonderful variety of music members have continued making across the UK, even at a distance – and expanded our events to connect online with more members in all four nations whom we may not normally be able to meet.

In this regard, our new guest speaker series has proved particularly popular for those seeking specialist knowledge on issues currently affecting the leisure-time music sector. More recently, where the guidance may be unclear, we’ve spoken up for our membership body and lobbied policy makers.

 

The Cobweb Orchestra

What financial challenges have you faced during the past year?

Our own member subscription income is largely determined by our members’ income, and that has been curtailed with restrictions on live performance. Our main cost is the staff team which supports our members and we need to keep that intact. After a period of financial stability, we are now facing three years of deficits which will bring our reserves to minimal levels.

What has been your biggest learning?

We’ve realised we’re able to reach so many more members online through digital comms through all our online resources and events. We’ve also found that members really value the advice and support we give, particularly when there’s so much ambiguity around guidance, not only our practical services, such as insurance.

What are your aims for the next 12 months?

To help our members return to in-person activity and continue to thrive in a (fingers crossed) post-pandemic world. We’ll be looking at how best to reach more potential members.

What advice would you give other CFG members and small charities?

Be proactive, reforecast frequently and scan for opportunities, so plans can be put in place to deal with potential issues before they bite.

 

Blackpool Symphony Orchestra

Thank you for sharing Making Music's story, Helen!

 

Are you a finance leader with a story to tell about your small charity? Then we'd love to hear from you! Please email the team, briefly outlining your role and charity, and we'll get back to you!

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