What's it like to be a trustee of Orchestras for All?

Expect to be amazed, expect to be moved, expect to be challenged, expect to help change young lives for the better.

As we search for a passionate and committed new Chair of Trustees, we catch up with current and former members of our Board to find out what being part of the Orchestras for All family means to them.

Trustees and staff at our Christmas Dinner in December 2018

Trustees and staff at our Christmas Dinner in December 2018

How did you first get involved with Orchestras for All?

All of the work at Orchestras for All is guided by our Board of seven passionate and committed individuals from a range of backgrounds - music education, arts management, media, fundraising, governance, finance and risk management. We’ve been a registered charity since 2013 and since then have had over 40 trustee meetings. But how did our trustees get involved in the first place?

“I came to one of their first National Orchestra for All concerts in Warwick in 2012 and was blown away - I think I may have cried.”

“After being introduced to [Founder and Artistic Director] Marianna Hay, I found myself volunteering to play double bass alongside NOFA members at the annual Musical Chairs fundraiser - a great, eye-opening experience.”

“I first heard about Orchestras for All through a friend who was actively involved in charitable activities and was contemplating being involved. I was actively involved in many musical activities and Orchestras for All's offerings really struck a chord.”

“When I first met up with Marianna, I hadn't envisaged joining the Board. Instead, our meeting - ostensibly for me to provide some fundraising tips - left me with the distinct feeling that this was a team with little to learn from me! However, I stayed in touch and was constantly impressed at the considerable reflection given to how programmes and growth could best support and reach marginalised young people.”

One of our Trustees knows about our work first hand - as a music teacher running the Modulo Programme back in her school in East London and as a member of pastoral staff on some of the early residential courses.

What motivated you to join the board?

We aim to use music education to bring about social change. Our Trustees were motivated to join us for a whole number of reasons, but are united by their commitment to our mission. But what was it in particular that made them want to apply to be part of the Board?

“It's hard to comprehend the impact the team at Orchestras for All has until you see up close the way the young people react to being part of an ensemble and making music with others. As a Trustee, you're a critical part of the charity's governance, and your experience and skills will be invaluable in ensuring the organisation runs well. Importantly, you're part of the wider OFA team - this is a charity that does great work far above what you'd expect from a small charity. Trustees are a big part of events, concerts, recruitment and spreading the word, but that was part of the attraction for me. You're not just joining a board, you're joining a family of passionate, talented people bringing music to young people in an innovative way.”

“The impact this small organisation has is extraordinary and the staff team are truly amazing. I have worked in the arts for 30 years or more and have rarely come across a better mix of creative flair and business planning skills in such a small team. You can see your input translating into real outcomes because they listen and they are so effective!”

“My motivation was a NOFA Summer Course concert at Leeds Arena - the result of extraordinary artistic, pastoral and logistical organisation by a truly dedicated team of staff and volunteers - and most importantly the exuberance of over 100 young musicians from tough backgrounds performing in front of a large audience. Marianna's vision in action - and I wanted to get involved.”

“Since I started working I didn't have the time to pursue other interests. I had gained all this experience from working in business and I could see the opportunity to give something back to those that didn't have the same opportunities that I did as a teenager to pursue their interest in music.”

“I got involved because I know the team are genuine about their work and wanted to continue supporting and journeying with them on this.”

This is not a charity that "chases the funding", but a high quality staff and Board that believes passionately in partnerships that genuinely serve the OFA mission. I joined as a Trustee not just as a fundraiser, but to be part of a constantly questioning, learning and improving organisation, and to offer thoughts and advice that I knew would be seriously considered. As a professional fundraiser, I have worked with lots of Trustees, so I knew that it was important to add value by actively participating and by being a sounding board - listening to them just as much as they heard me. This was always encouraged: as Trustees, we constantly questioned, probed and offered our alternative perspectives in Trustee meetings, which are an open and mutually supportive environment. I loved contributing in some small way to the work of this high performing team and especially seeing the results: experiencing the young musicians "live" and hearing their stories was the ultimate reward for a voluntary position!”

What’s next for Orchestras for All?

In 2020, Orchestras for All enters its 10th season - and in July 2020 we’ll be launching a new strategy to take us all the way to 2025. Our Trustees will play a key role in setting and monitoring our strategy and we look forward to working together to on its development. But what do our Trustees see in the future for Orchestras for All?

“In the time that I have been involved the organisation has come a long way. We have really improved the underlying business processes and this has freed up time to focus on the things that really matter - the young people and their experiences! I would like Orchestras for All to continue evolving and growing the reach of their programmes. As a Board we see and hear so many examples of the benefits that participation in the programmes is bringing - not just the direct involvement but through the development of confidence, team work and social integration.”

“All charities want to improve the lives of their beneficiaries. We need to find the very best partners to make sure what we do is amplified by all the others working in this field. So great partnership working to take us to the next level is what I see as our key to our future success at this point.”

“Wider reach, many more young lives inspired and transformed, and I hope real influence with educators and policy makers to see the life changing benefits of ensemble music-making.”

“Modulos in every region of the country!”

What advice do you have for candidates considering applying to join the Board?

We are looking for a passionate advocate for the role of the arts in society who is willing to work collaboratively with the Board and the staff team to guide us through the next stage of our development. What do our Trustees have to say to prospective candidates?

“Just read through the Impact Report and see for yourself what a difference Orchestras for All is having on extending music-making to those young people who are so often excluded. And if this moves you, if you feel music can make the difference to young people's life chances, I strongly recommend you get in touch.”

“Give it a go! You may not think that the skills and experience that you have are valuable but they are and the emotional reward that you get for giving up your time is more than worth it.”

“Expect to be amazed, expect to be moved, expect to be challenged, expect to help change young lives for the better.”

If you want to find out more about joining our Board of Trustees, visit our Join the Team page or contact Executive Director Stuart at stuart.burns@orchestrasforall.org or on 0207 267 4141.