Latest News | 28 January 2022

Derby’s City of Culture bid strikes a chord with region’s orchestra

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Sinfonia Viva, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, is the East Midlands’ only professional orchestra.

Here, newly-appointed chief executive Lucy Galliard, who has joined the organisation from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, outlines the importance of the arts in the fabric of the city and beyond and why she is backing Derby’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2025.

I have joined Sinfonia Viva as chief executive at an exciting time both for the orchestra and for the city as a whole.

I applaud the vision behind Derby’s City of Culture 2025 bid and the inclusive approach that has been taken to look at culture in its widest form.

The objectives of spearheading culture-led regeneration, both in terms of economic impact and to address inequalities to improve wellbeing, life opportunities and social mobility, closely mirror the ethos and values of Sinfonia Viva, which has been a key part of the city’s cultural offer for many years.

Lucy Galliard

In this our 40th anniversary year, I am proud to have joined a much-loved and diverse orchestra that is committed to making high quality music accessible to all, whether that is in schools, local communities or concert halls across the region and beyond.

The restrictions on life during the pandemic has brought into sharp focus just how important culture in its widest form is in our lives – whether that is enjoying live music, supporting our local football team or gathering around a table to share a meal.

When such pleasures were taken away, it made many of us realise what truly brings us joy and I think that is why so many organisations, businesses and individuals have so readily and vocally lent their support to Derby’s City of Culture bid.

Highlighting the inherent value that social and emotional wellbeing has on the city’s residents will be an important element to the bid and we are looking forward to showcasing our part in the city’s successes.

As an orchestra, we can demonstrate that by harnessing participants’ creativity we are able to meet different objectives – whether that is bringing science, technology and maths subjects to life to raise educational attainment; improving communication skills and self-confidence for all participants; or tackling social isolation and loneliness through collective creativity.

Sinfonia Viva has a national reputation for our bespoke approach to participation and education programmes and challenges what it means to be a professional orchestra working today – an approach which has been recognised with numerous awards.

We ensure that, within the programmes we deliver, participants not only have a chance to engage with the orchestra, but to actually create work of an extremely high standard that is performed by them as an equal partner alongside Sinfonia Viva.

The majority of Sinfonia Viva’s participation and education work centres on equality of access – creating work that stems from and is influenced by family, community and personal musical influences of those taking part.

Our work in the city is diverse, and has included:

  1. Delivering the Department for Education’s Opportunity Area work in Derby’s special schools.
  2. Bringing music to small groups and on a one-to-one basis for young people and their families/carers in hospital and hospice settings.
  3. Working with schools in some of the most economically deprived areas of the city.
  4. Running carers’ choirs that allow those with caring responsibilities an opportunity to engage in social singing and support away from the pressures they face in their daily caring responsibilities.

Whether or not Derby is named City of Culture this May, the bidding process will have helped us all focus on how we can work together to remove barriers that could prevent or deter people from engaging and participating with cultural activity.

We believe passionately that people’s lives should not be limited by social or economic circumstance and that disability is caused by the way society is organised, rather than by a person’s impairment or difference.

Furthermore, we always strive through our innovative approaches to performance and participation, to ensure that orchestral music is regarded as an art form for everyone.

Through our work we aim to support the removal of barriers that restrict life choices so that everyone has the opportunity to be independent and equal in society, with choice and control over their own lives.

Engagement is central to our approach, as is partnership working, which means our work is largely informed by its users through discussion and with guidance from our partners.

Our multi-faceted approach sees us performing in a wide range of venues from the concert hall to village halls and from a programme of core orchestral music to interactive performances with young families joining in with the music and even trying out the instruments for themselves.

A key element to Derby’s success in this bid will be collaboration from a wide range of organisations, businesses and individuals.

Although true collaboration often means stepping outside of our comfort zone, I hope that everyone in the city – whatever sector they work in or community they live in – will be just as excited about the opportunities that City of Culture status brings to the city as we in the arts already appreciate.

Collaboration is key in our innovative education projects, which bring together Viva’s professional musicians and workshop leaders with partner arts organisations who bring different specialists skills sets.

Together, we work school and college students from all backgrounds and all abilities and have even brought in renowned scientists and representatives from businesses, such as Rolls-Royce graduates and apprentices.

Everyone has a part to play in the creative process and each performance would be poorer without those individual skills.

We at Sinfonia Viva are proud to be part of the bid and have everything crossed that Derby will make it through to the final shortlist, which is the next major milestone.

Whatever the result, this ambitious bid has put culture at the top of the agenda across the city and made many more people really think about what they value in their lives.

I hope that it will help drive forward plans to improve and develop venues, encourage us all to be bold in our offer, attract further investment and enable more people to try out new activities, performances and events.

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