Still Crazy After All These Years?

council About 18 months ago, I wrote a brief article on what I understand the Music Education Council to be – and what could/should be done to improve it. You can read it here:

http://network.youthmusic.org.uk/learning/blogs/david-ashworth/why-do-we-need-tent-if-we-already-have-umbrella

It is heartening to see that some of the changes I had hoped for have now taken place….but there is still important work to be done. The key messages and aims of this organisation have now been stated much more clearly and we now know what MEC prioritises for music education. However, there are two important areas that need addressing. Without these, there will still be a widespread perception that MEC is ineffectual. This is a pity because, behind the scenes, I expect there is more going on than we ever get to hear about.

The first area is to do with structures and accountability. I’ve outlined the problems in my blog referred to above. Here, I go on to spell out what I think MEC must do to address these issues: There should be a better structural framework for membership.

  • The top level members should include just national music education bodies. These include: Music Mark, ISM, MMA and Youth Music.
  • The second level of membership should include major national bodies with education as one of their remits or organisations with a specialist agenda such as SingUp, BBC, Musicians Union etc.
  • The third level should be everybody else.

Different levels of membership would come with different levels of accountability, so that those of us looking in from the outside know exactly who should be doing what – and when. We should also know who the Chair, Vice Chair/Hon. Secretary and Hon.Treasurer are – and how best to contact them.

The second area is to do with dissemination and PR generally. This is an area where MEC really lets itself down. Here are two recent instances:

I went along to the MEC summer seminar in Leeds anticipating some good, rich discussion in the music technology in education breakout session with a substantial group of like minded individuals. I suppose I had assumed that there would be around 100-150 people attending the event in total with perhaps 10-20 in our specialist group. I was therefore disappointed to see that there were only a handful of attendees for the entire event, in addition to those who had come up from London to facilitate the sessions. So I was in a group of just one, which was led by a facilitator who had no background/expertise in music technology. We were joined by Philip Flood who had NO attendees for his HE session. But I’m sadly disappointed that this potential opportunity was lost. So why was it that MEC were only able to attract so few to this event? I suspect because many potential delegates were simply unaware of it, due to poor publicity.

Following this event [and the better attended ones in London and Bristol], MEC have gathered some of the main points arising from these events and put them into a consultation document. The intention is that the music education workforce would consider and comment on this document during the middle of the summer holidays. But how would music teachers and others find out about this? As far as I can see, the only publicity has been a single Twitter message put out a few days ago….. This will not do. MEC needs to be much more strategic regarding getting the message out. A comms manager should be appointed who will:

  • set up an effective online networking capability
  • harness the PR potential of its members much more effectively
  • write a regular monthly newsletter, spelling out exactly what MEC are doing
  • set up PR opportunities with events, media etc
  • devise a much more efficient two way communication setup

Organisations similar to MEC now do this as a matter of course. It is now up to MEC to bring itself in line. So there have been some improvements over the last 18 months, but there is more important work to be done. Will I be writing this blog all over again next year? I sincerely hope not.

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One comment on “Still Crazy After All These Years?
  1. Interesting post, David. The PR side of things seems particularly urgent to me. I think it’s safe to say that many in music education haven’t even heard of MEC (let alone their events).

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