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News at the ISM

Our Chief Executive, Deborah Annetts, reveals some changes at the ISM as we approach our 140th birthday.

These are tumultuous times we are living in. Both internationally and nationally there is so much change it can sometimes feel difficult to process everything. With the passing of Queen Elizabeth II we are entering into a new age. And at virtually the same time we have a new Prime Minister.

The ISM is a constant in all this change. Set up in 1882 on 7 October to promote the art of music and to look after the interests of those working in music, it continues to meet its objectives every day. To celebrate our 140th anniversary, change is also coming to the ISM. The first big change is the new look Music Journal. Music Journal has been at the heart of the ISM since we started and we are delighted to launch the freshly redesigned Journal with its striking new colour palate. We hope members like it and find the contents informative and stimulating.

This edition of Music Journal is packed full of news. The ISM legal team have achieved a historic result in the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land on holiday pay. Our member Lesley Brazel supported by the ISM legal team started her claim in 2013 and in July the Supreme Court decided that the ISM lawyers were right in their interpretation of the law. This is an amazing result.

We have also published our latest report, The Case for Change which found a common theme – creeping casualisation of the music education workforce. Poor contracts will be at the heart of our campaigning in the coming months, and you can find out more about whether the Brazel case might affect you and our latest research into working conditions at our webinar, 'The music education workforce: Rates of pay, ‘The case for change’ report and the Brazel judgment, which you can watch back.

Music Journal also features Nicola Benetti who has just become the latest recipient of the ISM’s Distinguished Musician Award and there are also brilliant features on the work of BBC National Orchestra of Wales expanding the musical horizons of children and young people in Wales, Graham Fitkin’s interactive app called Geography: Truro and the work of the Music in Secondary Schools Trust, a great music education charity.

Members will know we have been giving the name of our organisation a lot of thought. There have been discussions about the word 'Incorporated' for some time because it does not speak to our values or what we are trying to do as an organisation. The view of Council which is made up entirely of ISM members was reinforced by a discussion at the AGM in 2020 when a member said that the name was old fashioned and meant nothing and needed to be changed.

We know from discussions with members that it was important to keep the initials ISM. So the hunt was on for a word which spoke to our values and which began with an I. Once we started to think it became obvious what the word should be and that is Independent. Independence is ingrained in everything we do and has been since 1882. We know from members that our independence is an important reason for being an ISM member. We are not affiliated to any political party and we do not take money from the government no matter who is in power. This is because we have to be totally dedicated to what musicians are telling us without fear or favour. We must never be dependent on an income stream which means we have to do the bidding of a third party.

So, we will be changing our name to the Independent Society of Musicians very shortly. Watch this space for updates.


These changes are about the ISM investing in the future. With a new name, a new website which we are currently building and improved member resources and services we will be able to provide members with even more support and advice, enabling the ISM to continue to deliver its founding vision for the next 140 years.

Thank you for your continued support.

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