Alongside the wider arts sector, The Aloud Charity is continuing to recover from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. We have used this as an opportunity to reflect on our choir programmes and begin the process of rebuilding our participant numbers.
Within the context of heightened social and racial inequity which the Covid-19 pandemic has only served to intensify, the world has irrevocably changed and arts organisations such as ourselves must ensure that we are continuing to listen and adapt to meet the needs of our young people.
The last 12 months has seen The Aloud Charity embark on a process of community consultation to determine if our programmes remain fit for purpose for young people in Wales and how we can work to better reflect the diversity within our communities.
Two pieces of work were commissioned: one about the Impact of our work and the other surrounding Engagement and Inclusion. The charity has also consulted widely with our existing choir participants and leaders.
These reports have been critical in developing our thinking. While the Impact Report highlighted the fact that once young people engage with our work they feel welcomed, respected, develop many important life skills, and experience improved mental health, the Engagement and Inclusion Report made it clear that we do not engage with a large percentage of the available population in Wales and are not known widely in our communities.
Questions were raised in the Engagement and Inclusion research around whether it was appropriate in 2022 for us to have gender segregated choirs.
It was also questioned whether the word ‘Only’ in our choir names proved a barrier to engagement.
We have carried out further work in these areas and it has become clear to us during this process that the names of our choirs in and of themselves are not the barrier to participating in our choirs and that work needs to be undertaken in the areas of recruitment, community building, relevance, and representation.
Our commitment to inclusion can be found here
In order to provide consistency across our choirs we will be consolidating the names of our choirs to bring them under the aloud.cymru banner with:
Only Boys Aloud – choirs for boys and non-binary young people aged 11-19
Only Girls Aloud – choirs for girls and non-binary young people aged 11-19
Only Kids Aloud – choirs for young people aged 9-12
Young people’s voices and experiences will always be central to the work of Aloud. Working collaboratively with our young people to shape the future of our choirs has been an extremely rewarding process to date and we are proud of their generosity and kindness throughout this process.