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The Brass Band Conference

Under the banner of ‘Better Banding for All’, the 2019 Brass Band Conference was hosted by BBE in Sale on 28 September.  Participants were able to join in a variety of activities during the day, including a keynote address by leading composer Edward Gregson and a panel debate on the purpose and structure of brass band contests. Breakout sessions included topics such as creative funding, diversity and inclusion, safeguarding and Child Performance Licensing, mental health in brass bands and copyright each hosted by industry leaders and offering advice based on current best practice.  The conference also launched and was proud to present the Brass Band Conference Awards.

BBE Chief Executive Officer, Kenny Crookston, commented: “We are delighted to be able to present such a compelling timetable of events for our conference, which we intend will become an annual fixture on the brass band calendar. Brass bands in the UK may have been deprived of opportunities for communal discussion throughout history, but we are confident that this is a culture that can be changed to the benefit of every element of brass banding over the coming years. We know we are a community with plenty to say about how things are run, so here is a fantastic opportunity to both acquire some new skills for your organisation and to have your say in how our future can be shaped!”

The day began with the Keynote address from renowned composer Edward Gregson.

Dr Michael Bonshor presented his research on mental health and wellbeing conducted with BBE members, detailing the benefits of Brass Bands but also the pitfalls that can be avoided.


The panel discussion looked at two questions: 1. What is the purpose of brass band contests? and 2. Is the current structure of brass band contests fit for purpose?

During the debate, there were many views expressed, and in a final show of hands the delegates voted overwhelmingly in favour of investigating constructive changes in the structure of brass band contesting. To facilitate this, BBE intends to produce a report into band contesting in the UK, reflecting fully the views of all stakeholders in the banding community. Central to this report will be a comprehensive survey, to which everyone with an interest in brass banding will be invited to contribute.

In creating the survey, BBE would like to know the questions you would like us to ask on your behalf. Contest organisers will be invited to make submissions directly, but in order to make the project as comprehensive as possible we would also welcome the views of all interested members of the brass band public. The question being asked currently is, ‘On which aspects of contesting would you like to know the views of the brass band public?’

BBE Partnership and Development Manager, Dr Alex Parker, who is leading the project, commented: “As far as we are aware, this is the first time that all members of the banding community will have been asked what they think about contesting in such a comprehensive way, as well as looking for their solutions to some of the perceived problems facing bands. We will be applying academic rigour to the process of creating the report to make sure the report presents an unbiased reflection of the true feelings about contesting, and this starts with the process of creating the survey in the first place.” 

To have your questions considered for the process, please send them by email to by Saturday 14 December. All contributions will be treated confidentially and nothing will be specifically attributed to any person or organisation in the resulting survey.