Network Meetings were created as a way of sharing local, regional, and national information around themes which bands have told us they require. The network aspect of the meetings offers bands the opportunity to meet and share experiences, highs and lows, hopefully leading to further collaboration. The first focus has been funding; a springboard for creative development and a necessity for most bands.
Each brass band offers within its membership the chance for people of differing ages and backgrounds to share a pastime. However, bands have few chances to get together in a non-contesting environment. The network aspect of these meetings provides a forum for players and supporters to share challenges and achievements. Bands from all sections have the chance to learn, listen and talk.
The West Midlands Brass Band association hosted the first Network meeting in April 2013. Eight bands or band-related organisations represented. In 2013, a total of 79 organisations received support via Network Meetings, with 113 participants. Bands learned about government initiatives like Local Giving, national funding schemes including Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts, and alternative funding methods like Crowdfunding.
Band representatives leave the meetings feeling inspired, energised, and supported. “Second one I’ve attended – always more to learn. Brilliant informal presentation, focused but diverse and open to comments. I shall be talking to my band about their contacts, about ideas for networking & getting businesses involved,- and getting them to join BBE so we can apply to the Norman Jones Fund!” Lesley.
“ Very interesting. Lots of useful information. Will spur us on for 150-year celebrations in 2015. New step? -The networking ideas, especially financial advisor and collaborating with our local college” Bridget, Sheila and Jenny.
Network meetings with a funding theme continue, with new subjects, such as Social Media and Attracting Volunteers, in planning.
Achievements from Project
- Change of attitudes between bands
- Improvements to understanding of local support available to bands
- Identified next steps for development
- Planning for focused creative projects
- The importance of strategic/financial planning highlighted
- New opportunities identified and developed
- Introduced sharing of good practice and collaboration