Sound and Music's Fair Access Principles

Fair Access Principles Logo
February 28th 2020

Today Sound and Music has launched its Fair Access Principles, calling for wide ranging changes in the recruitment, selection and support of composers across the UK.

Download the Fair Access Principles here

Sound and Music’s Fair Access Principles are designed to act as a code of best practice for running successful, open and inclusive artist development programmes, competitions and awards for composers. (The definition of “composer” varies between organisations; at Sound and Music we mean “anyone creating their own music, in any style or genre”).

Sound and Music has developed the Fair Access Principles through consultation with a broad range of composers and organisations, as well as from our experience of running open call programmes.

Sound and Music’s Fair Access Principles aim to open up a positive public conversation about how as a sector we can work together to identify and take steps to remove barriers to inclusion or consideration. As part of our remit as a national organisation, we want to encourage the sharing of best practice and to improve the accessibility of selection processes so that a more diverse range of composers can have equality of opportunity.

In order to achieve this, we want to work collaboratively with the wider sector to address ongoing issues around inclusion, and to advocate for our collective responsibility to remove barriers. We also want to acknowledge our responsibility to improve the experience for all composers who apply for opportunities, and to minimise the negative impact of competitive processes on unsuccessful applicants.

Why do we need the Fair Access Principles?

Over the past few years, Sound and Music has publicly highlighted our aim to diversify the range of composers we work with. We have made some progress, learnt a great deal, and have taken steps to improve the accessibility of our programmes. We also know that others are doing good work in this area.

However, greater change is still needed. We believe that we need to accelerate change, now, and work more strategically with others to do so. Too many composers are prevented from benefiting from opportunities for the wrong reasons: because of their background, demographic, economic circumstances and access needs. This means that talent is not recognised and supported, and an insufficient range of composers will be creating new music in the future.

At Sound and Music, we are currently implementing some but not all of the principles; like many organisations, our improvement is a process and we ourselves have further to go to ensure that our programmes offer fair access.

However, Sound and Music commits to implementing all of the Fair Access Principles across all of our programmes within 24 months, and to share our learning and progress against this commitment and timeline.

We invite other organisations to join us in this commitment to change, to sign up to these principles and a timeline to implement them, and to create together a more inclusive and equal sector. Sound and Music also commits to actively promoting other organisations and opportunities which adhere to the Fair Access Principles, and we would like to create a national network so that we can share learning and support each other.

We also believe that many of these Fair Access Principles can apply to other art forms and areas of artistic practice (including work with children and young people), and welcome approaches from organisations in other fields about adapting them.

Hannah Bujic – Co-Head of Artist Development at Sound and Music said:

“It’s important to Sound and Music that the composer’s voice is central to everything we do. We believe that by setting out these Fair Access Principles for best practice, as a sector we can work to ensure that all composers have an equal chance to participate in opportunities and to have their voices heard. The Fair Access Principles have been developed through a process of conversation and learning, and we want them to act as something that stimulates further conversation, improves our practice as organisations, and enables talent to flourish.”

Read the full Fair Access Principles here

Accessible Word doc. Version

We're actively looking for more partners to join us in committing to these principles. Find out more about how to get involved by emailing Co-Head of Artist Development, Will Dutta at

Our Partners:

PRS Foundation

“PRS Foundation believes that the success of the projects we fund is driven by the diversity of our grantees. Until open call programmes are more inclusive, we miss out on exceptional talent. We are therefore working closely with other funders and talent development experts to ensure opportunities are more accessible, and fully endorse Sound and Music’s Fair Access Principles.”

Joe Frankland, CEO, PRS Foundation

Snape Maltings

“This is an important step towards more open and inclusive artist development programmes, and Snape Maltings supports it wholeheartedly. We believe that Fair Access Principles will encourage organisations to work together in continuing to remove barriers, broaden our reach and diversify our programmes, making these accessible for music creators from all backgrounds as well as in all genres of music. It resonates strongly with our ethos as an organisation, and the vision Britten and Pears had for the arts to be useful for society as a whole.”



Sound Festival


"At sound, we believe that the increasing diverse society we live in should be reflected as much as possible in the composers we work with. We are committed to putting in place new processes to widen access to our development, commissioning and performance opportunities. It is of utmost importance to also work alongside other organisations to ensure that new ways of working become embedded in the new music sector. We are thus extremely pleased to be collaborating with Sound and Music on the Fair Access Principles programme."


Drake Music Scotland

"At Drake Music Scotland we are firmly behind the idea of a more diverse range of composers having equality of opportunity and access to artistic development opportunities, competitions and awards.  We work with disabled composers and music creators through our own programme and with other organisations in mainstream music, to remove the barriers, challenge perceptions, enable these new voices to be heard and their artistic ideas come to fruition."


Opera North

"Opera North supports the Fair Access Principles because accessibility and reaching artists from the broadest range of backgrounds and experiences is central to our Resonance artist development scheme and other opportunities. We are delighted to work with Sound and Music and other partners to keep developing our approach over the long term."




"Unlimited is committed to fair access throughout the arts, and are proud to support Sound
and Music’s Fair Access Principles, which work towards eradicating barriers to
accessible opportunities. We believe such work is vital for a dynamic and
innovative creative sector. We therefore encourage other organisations to do
the same!”


Tŷ Cerdd

"Tŷ Cerdd is proud to be a launch partner in the Fair Access Principles. As we endeavour to reach out across Wales to a more diverse range of composers, and to help remove barriers that we know artists are experiencing, these principles feel important and timely. Thank you Sound and Music for sharing this approach with the sector."


 Sage Gateshead

"Inclusion is at the heart of our work at Sage Gateshead, so we are delighted to be one of the first organisations committing to the Fair Access Principles for composers and music creators. The principles reflect changes we have already made in our Summer Studios residencies and help us push forward with improving access across our other artist development programmes. We're looking forward to sharing our progress and learning with the other organisations involved."

Abigail Pogson, Managing Director, Sage Gateshead

Is your organisation interested in supporting the Fair Access Principles?

Find out more about how to get involved by emailing Co-Head of Artist Development, Will Dutta at

We’d like to thank many people for their integral role in developing our Fair Access Principles. These include:

Sound and Music’s Composer Advisory Group: Beatrice Dillon, Blasio Kavuma, Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian, Corey Mwamba, Des Oliver, Helen Grime, Jo Thomas, Lauren Redhead, Rob Bentall, Sean Burn, Supriya Nagarajan and Vicki Bennett.

Sound and Music Board Members Jo Thomas and Shirley Thompson

Read the full Fair Access Principles here

Accessible Word doc. Version

Find out more about how to get involved by emailing Co-Head of Artist
Development, Will Dutta at

Our Partners


Composer Advocates

"I fully support these principles towards gaining a fairer platform for composers in music. As a composer, Vice-Chair of Sound and Music and a disabled person, I am aware of how flexibility creates effective avenues of communication and creativity enabling composers to fully engage with music initiatives.

For instance, if you are a disabled person on average it costs £600 a month more to live, so entry fees can become a luxury item which many simply cannot afford. This is a move towards a new structure which we haven't experienced before. This is a good thing."

Jo Thomas – Composer, Vice Chair at Sound and Music 


“The Fair Access Principles that Sound and Music have put forward are long due…I hope more and more organisations look at it and take it up, because that will boost the music sector like nothing else.”

Supriya Nagarajan – Composer and founder of Manasamitra 


“The idea of treating [composers] fairly and listening makes us feel not small, not squashed…[but] feel invited in to the party”

gobscure – Composer and Artist 


“The Fair Access Principles provide a way to… reach as broad a pool of people as possible… if you’re looking to encounter new composers and new music then it’s really important to take away barriers to access and application that people may encounter”

Dr Lauren Redhead - Composer, Performer and Lecturer


"The UK has a rich variety of music creators and I think the Fair Access Principles might help to give more people a voice, make more people feel welcome and encourage them to apply for things.”

Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian - Composer and Performer

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