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An inclusive sector is key to an inclusive music offer, according to the Music Manifesto Partnership and Advocacy Group (MMPAG), which hosted a seminar on inclusion in music this week, opening up discussions with community musicians, music therapists and other experts.

Ensuring that there are musical opportunities for young people with special educational needs, physical disabilities, those in care or at risk, and others outside of mainstream education is one of the MMPAG's five areas of focus. The working group has dubbed its topic, 'The Power of Music'.

One recurrent theme during the seminar was the familiar need for joined-up working across sectors and regions. Not only are practitioners in this field working with a huge range of children and young people with different needs, but the work falls under the remit of numerous organisations and funders, from social services and hopitals to education authorities, children's services and young offenders institutions.

In terms of funding, community music practitioners sometimes fall through the cracks, when projects are deemed too arty for a community fund, and too 'community' for an arts fund.

There were concerns for practitioners who can feel marginalised, working freelance in a fragmented industry. Projects usually rely on short-term funding, leaving practitioners financially insecure and bogged down in paperwork. The importance of supporting the workforce by building a better infrastructure was deemed essential. 

Therapists in the room were keen to raise the profile of their work, feeling that the value of music therapy is recognised by the hospitals, schools and other services they work with, but is not well known in the mainstream. Both therapists and community musicians felt there was a need to spread the passion of practitioners and the joy of participants to the policy makers and those holding the purse strings.

While the ultimate aim may be 'the musicalisation of society', the group have set to work on some short-term and mid-term aims, answering key questions on how to spread good practice, geographically and among different sectors and practitioners.

We'll bring you further news as work continues. In the meantime, if you have thoughts, experiences or ideas in this field that you'd like to contribute, log in to the forum.


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