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Sage Gateshead presents MC² – a mini conference on Youth Voice and Inclusive Music Education

Posted on 4 March 2021

Estee Blu - BW

Friday 26th March 2021, 1.00pm – 4.00pm on Zoom

Tickets: £12.50 (20% discount for Music Education Hub staff and music teachers, Youth Music funded organisations and students). Places are limited, advance booking required.

Sage Gateshead is delighted to present MC2, the fourth in its series of mini conferences funded by Youth Music. This event is for Music Leaders, music teachers, project workers and musicians working with children and young people that are experiencing challenging circumstances.

MC² will explore different approaches and solutions for embedding youth voice in a range of contexts through presentations, workshops and a panel discussion focussing on Youth Voice and Inclusive Music Education. Delegates will come away with new knowledge, insight, skills and contacts to develop their own practice and organisation removing barriers and connecting with young people on a deeper level.

A keynote from artist and Music Leader Esther Lenda Bokuma will examine the importance of placing youth voice at the heart of organisational practice and share thoughts about how the role of the Music Leader as the young person shapes their own experience.

Music leader and Goldsmith’s lecturer Graham Dowdall will look at the theory that underpins good practice in relation to youth voice and inclusive musical learning – exploring how to work with young people in productive and positive ways.

Young people that work with Great North Children’s Hospital will lead on a practical session looking at how organisations can shift decision-making and power highlighting the positive change this can bring about.

The event will finish with a panel discussion where contributors will respond to questions collected through the event.

Hannah Taylor, CoMusica Inclusion Training Manager at Sage Gateshead said: “MC2 is a series of mini conferences that opens up conversations around inclusive musical practice. In next month’s event, we will explore Youth Voice and hear from organisations who have already embedded it in their practice alongside the benefits they are experiencing.

There is so much to gain by bringing young people’s voices into the heart of our organisations, it’s important we find ways that young people can inform decision-making with their new ideas and perspectives. Over the three hours of MC2 we will have access to young people, artists and Music Leaders with direct experience of embedding youth voice, they will share insights, advice, learning and practical tips to develop inclusive practice.”

Esther Lenda Bokuma said: “The young people of today will most certainly be the future leaders of tomorrow, and I believe that our job as leaders in our respective fields is to embrace their thoughts, feelings, ideas and aspirations, and integrate that into the curricula that we teach them. As every industry from technology to finance, fashion, music and beyond evolves using user-generated data and innovative ideas, the music education sector must also follow suit. The current climate and an event like MC2 is not only timely, but also presents the perfect opportunity to open up these conversations around embedding youth voice into the heart of Inclusive Music Education.”

Graham Dowdall said: “In order to really engage young people meaningfully in music making and to access the incredible benefits that can bring, especially for those facing disadvantage, we need to tailor our activities to meet their aspirations, tastes and accommodate their needs. This means we have to listen to the young people and create negotiated curriculums that meet them halfway. For too long education has been something done to young people not with them and at the moment as we are trying to make music education more inclusive and more diverse it also needs to become more representative of the cultures, music and views of the people we work with. Many young people have been further excluded by the events of the last year and it is really time to reach out to invite young people to be part of the conversation about how we move forward and to give them a voice in their own futures.”

For more information, please click here. Places are limited so advanced booking is essential.

Cost: £12.50 (20% discount for Music Education Hub staff and music teachers, Youth Music funded organisations and students).


For further information, interviews or images please contact:
Jackie Thompson, Marketing & Communications Manager, Sage Gateshead

Susie Gray, Director, The Corner Shop PR, 07834 073795

Previous MC2 events have explored the social, emotional and mental health of children and young people, group dynamics and online musical learning, all with a focus on inclusive practice and work with children and young people that face challenging circumstances.

MC2 is part Sage Gateshead’s ‘Inclusion Training’ programme which trains professionals and organisations who want to engage children and young people through music. It is part of our Youth Music funded ‘Alliance for a Musically Inclusive England’ (AMIE) programme which aims to increase musical inclusion in the North-East.

Sage Gateshead is one the founding members of the national AMIE network which is a movement for change throughout music education in England established by Youth Music.

Esther Lenda Bokuma is an artist from London who has been compared to SZA and Solange by music press including the NME.

Esther currently works at Universal Music Group in Brand Partnership and roles at Sound Connections include Trustee, Associate and Senior Producer where she focuses on building career pathways for young people in the music industry, education and community building in the digital space.

Esther is also a Director of the recently launched F-List led by former BASCA CEO Vick Bain which focuses on gender parity for Women in Music, with an intersectional approach.

Esther’s MA dissertation with the University of Westminster explored inequality in the experiences of darker-skinned Black British women in R&B/Soul, dealing with racism, colourism and sexism in the UK music industries.

Graham Dowdall is an experienced musician, lecturer and trainer with a specialism in working with young people with special education needs and those experiencing challenging circumstances.

Graham has worked in a range of different contexts from special schools to prisons to care homes and is currently a lecturer at Goldsmiths where he leads their Community, Therapeutic and Educational music modules as well as an MA in Community Arts.

He also works for several music organisations including music education hubs, Live Music NowDrake Music, Sound Connections and Youth Music.

Graham combines his work with a successful performing and composing career regularly gaining airplay on BBC Radio 3 and BBC6 Music.


About Sage Gateshead

  • Since opening 15 years ago, Sage Gateshead has worked side by side with partners and the wider community to help address the complex blend of social and economic challenges the region faces.
  • Sage Gateshead continues to be major employer and has brought investment and tourism into the region, generating c. £500 million contribution to the local economy.
  • More importantly, Sage Gateshead has brought social, cultural and educational value to over 10 million people and millions more via digital and broadcast activity.
  • Last year Sage Gateshead attracted 2 million visitors; 5,000 people took part in weekly music classes; 17,854 school children experienced live orchestral music and we worked with a further 2,418 vulnerable young people; more than 2,000 adults a week took part in music making designed to tackle social isolation.
  • The North East region is one of the worst affected by Covid-19. The region will be one where the recovery is slow and hard. Arts and culture have a pivotal role to play in regional and nation-wide recovery.
  • Covid-19 presents a major financial challenge to Sage Gateshead, the iconic Foster + Partners designed NE landmark.  80% of its income has been affected, and in 2020-21 £10 million in revenue will be lost. The organisation has taken swift action to overcome this crisis, but further challenges lie ahead. 90% of the workforce has been on furlough, significant cost savings have been sought and found, and its fundraising campaign aims to raise £3 million to help secure the organisation during the next three years. However, income levels are likely to be drastically reduced well into next year, and so the charity is redoubling its fundraising efforts.
  • Arts and Culture in the North East had a turnover of £400 million, providing employment for 2,450 people in 2016 (last year for which figures are available)
  • Performing arts accounted for 33% (i.e. >£133 million) and 700 jobs
  • Gross Value Added of arts and culture sector to the NE is £203 million


Sage Gateshead is an international music centre and renowned conference and event venue located in the North East of England. It is for artists, for audiences and for the North.

We are a charity and rely on the support of donors to ensure everyone in the North East community can experience the joy of music.

Every year we welcome more than two million visitors. More than 400 concerts featuring all kinds of local, regional and international music, take place all year round. Music-making and learning activity takes place not only in the building but across the region, with 190,000 people of all ages taking part in over 10,000 music classes and workshops.

The iconic building, designed by renowned architects Foster + Partners, is home to Royal Northern Sinfonia and is a place where emerging artists are nurtured through dedicated programmes and festivals.