Vocal Futures is a foundation that set out to inspire young people to engage with classical music.
Young audiences are becoming increasingly rare in the classical music world, and whilst many organisations have effective education and outreach departments dedicated to capturing and retaining this elusive target market, there is little evidence that these efforts are working beyond the initial stimulus.
Vocal Futures believes that there are a number of components to attracting young people to, and involving them in, classical music. We designed and implemented a unique three-step approach to identify interested 16-22 year olds from a range of backgrounds and involve them in classical music. These young people become our Young Ambassadors.
Our education programme represented 75% of our work, and provided a series of ideas-based and skills-based workshops. We also produced a series of large-scale choral works in unusual venues, so that our Young Ambassadors could work on and then see a major professional live production. Finally, we ran a thorough post-event follow-up, providing our Young Ambassadors with opportunities to attend further concerts and events by other organisations. We call our three steps “Induction,” “Conduction” and “Outduction.”
A vital element of our approach was research - not just into the views, perceptions and attitudes the young people involved but of those professionals who deliver the experience. To this end, we worked with an internationally renowned research team, led by Professor John Sloboda, to evaluate the effectiveness of our programmes.
As the composer Jim Aitchison said:
"[…]classical music does not have to be ‘made’ relevant to the culture of young people. Ways have to be found of showing them that it is already relevant to them as human beings and it is their birthright that they should have the opportunity to experience and explore it as fully as they wish. We just have to find, and keep trying to find, ways of making this happen."