Summary

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we have compiled this document to show the work that Music Durham Exec has been undertaking this term to maintain our fantastic community and support all music occurring in Durham University. Since the announcement of national lockdown, all rehearsals were required to only having members of the same household. Despite this being an obvious blow to many of our ensembles, we have been doing our best to maintain Music Durham relations and activities. Listed below is a short summary of the actions undertaken by each exec member,

Music rehearsals

Performances

Introduction

It has not been a normal term by any means and for this reason we decided to create an exec report to detail what we have been doing during COVID-19 and the surrounding restrictions. Although we have tried our best to help our societies and community throughout lockdown, we are well-aware that there are things that we could have done better. In publishing this report, we hope to be more transparent about the actions we have been taking so that you can give us honest feedback about what we’ve been doing this term and what we can do better!

Most of you will be aware of the restrictions in place in County Durham and the North East, but there have been restrictions and provisions made by the University for wider student experiences. We had no direct impact on these choices, but as they directly impacted many Music Durham rehearsals, we will list them here. Hopefully including these will help to contextualise the actions and events that we’ve been undertaking as an exec.

Despite this strange term, the goings-on of Durham’s music and theatre have still continued with some quite impressive statistics. We had 120 regular weekly bookings for music and theatre ‘in person’ activity, 86 music rehearsals, 27 performances of pieces both live and virtual, 10 Music Durham virtual concerts and 1 fundraising concert collaborating with DUCK. We also had a good engagement with the content provided, with 423 views on our YouTube and 91 live audience members when it was safe!

 

Weekly bookings

Restrictions

For the first two weeks of University, all activities were put on hold for the first two weeks to limit household mixing, especially between livers-in and livers-out. This was Uni-wide and intended to limit the initial outbreak from students coming from across all the country.

After this, each society was required to have a designated COVID officer to ensure they were following all regulations. Rehearsals were allowed to occur in centrally bookable rooms, with a certain amount of people allowed in each room in the University.

This was in effect until the national lockdown was announced. From then on, all music and theatre activity between households was ceased (5th November – 2nd December). Activity for individual households continued in centrally bookable rooms at the Assembly Rooms, Elvet Riverside, TLC and the Mount Oswald Hub. These provisions ended up continuing until the end of term.

Charlie’s work began in Term 3 2020, working with the University and staff members through Summer to establish a plan of action for returning to University and extra-curricular music in general. Before returning to University, he helped to host Music Durham Open Day presentations for prospective students. He also organised and chaired multiple exec meetings in the run up to term time to establish opportunities for Freshers’ and Returners to take part in, regardless of COVID-19.

Charlie worked alongside our Social Secretaries and Welfare Officer to start the Music Durham Parenting Scheme over summer, where freshers were given two or three Returner ‘guardians’ to talk to for advice and guidance. This project has had excellent engagement with over 150 sign-ups! He also updated parts of the website with new information for this year, ensuring there was credible and up to date material. Eve (Assistant Manager) has also been involved in more recent discussions about updating the website. The Executive Committee began meeting over the summer term to create and publicise various events in the first week such as the parenting social and the fresher’s concert/

A focus of Charlie’s this year has been to diversify and expand the scope of opportunity in Music Durham. Over the past term Charlie has been pivotal in organising and facilitating the set up of three new societies, namely, Conductor’s Society, Keyboard Instrument Society, and Band Society.  

Due to COVID, it has been extremely important for societies to move online and Music Durham is no exception! Charlie has been working hard alongside the exec to form new positions and opportunities inside Music Durham with the aim to redirect our efforts to the online landscape: 

  • Tech Committee & the brand-new Music Durham Tech Officer position – This is with the aim to provide tech hire and support to ensembles and individuals in the future to not just put on higher quality online and offline concerts, but to give them the ability to record performances and put these online. 
  • Welfare Committee – Wellbeing is crucial, especially in COVID-ridden times. Charlie has been working with exec to provide many opportunities to get involved and connect with others, as well as assisting Hana in setting up the new Welfare committee. 

Charlie has also been working on many other projects and responsibilities such as: 

  • The DUCKxMD concert, putting on a socially distanced pre-recorded concert alongside the DUCK Charities. 
  • Communicating with Exec Committee and Presidents Committee, organising and chairing over 35 meetings over first term. 
  • National Music Societies Committee – Compiling a database of all UK University equivalents of Music Durham with the aim to set up a national committee to steer and facilitate student music across the UK. 

Most of Eve’s work this term has been orientated around administration and information. Exec Stash was ordered for the beginning of term and duly distributed, ensuring that we are visibly friendly and approachable musical faces around Durham. A weekly newsletter has been circulated to all Music Durham members since the first week of term, advertising all events that have either been submitted to the newsletter via Microsoft Forms, or have been spotted as being popular on Facebook. This newsletter has had a relatively high engagement, ranging from 55.2% opens to 80%. Discussions around making this newsletter more accessible have been had, but we do believe that it should be kept as an exclusive benefit to members of Music Durham paying for their membership.

The other large admin element of Eve’s role has been minuting all Music Durham meetings, including all meetings with the Exec and the Presidents of our ensembles. In efforts to be more transparent and communicative with what we discuss in our meetings, we are currently in the process of putting together a page on our Music Durham website that catalogues all minutes.

Eve has also been busy writing a proposal to update our Music Durham website, not only making it more accurately informative and visually appealing, but also reforming it into more of a student hub. This would have many benefits including centralising our publicity and creating a more accessible platform for Music Durham Societies to host and promote online events, which is essential at this time.

This term, Alfie has held one-on-one meetings with every College Music Representative to discuss how Music Durham can support their work. This included talking to the JCR President and new Music Rep at South College to help them get started up. A new music society was also founded at Hild Bede to get the music scene started there! As well as these individual meetings, Alfie also held two full committee meetings with all music reps so that they could share their ideas, knowledge and give feedback on how college music is progressing across the University. A Colleges Secretary was appointed to help minute these meetings, as well as keep an eye on the social media, including the Facebook Page which has been rebranded to ‘Music Durham Colleges’.

Alongside David, the College Music Coordinator (Sabbatical), Alfie put together a survey on college music and incorporate the results into a proposal for investment into college facilities, ensuring that college music is remaining a well-supported element of the music scene in Durham. The college with the most votes (Trevs) got a cake made for their music rep as an informal award. As well as this, he has gone to great efforts to ensure that college music is given equal treatment in all Music Durham publicity.

Abbie has held a concert virtually each Sunday evening: this involved emailing all Music Durham Presidents & College Representatives to ask for any repertoire submissions. Once interest was gauged, she assigned each ensemble the week that they would be ‘performing’ and gave them a deadline to send their submissions in. She then gathered all the videos from each ensemble into a Google Drive including a small introduction by herself, which was then shared with Charlie/Fergus so that they could compile the video for that week and premiere it on the Facebook page. In addition to this, she has helped to provide videos for the DUCK charity concert attending meetings both for this, and for the RT Projects that Hana has been involved with through Welfare.

Lydia’s work this term has been incredibly hard as there have been very few opportunities to meet in person. Because of this, Lydia has spent her time this term creating a concrete base ready for Outreach Projects next term. A new Outreach Committee is being formed this term, so that larger and more ambitious projects can hopefully be achieved in the near future. Over the past term, Lydia has increased her networking with the local community, including relations with local schools, care homes and RT Projects. Recently, she has been working with Hana and RT Projects on the Community Quilt Project, and plans to work alongside Welfare and the new Outreach Committee for more exciting collaborations with local charities and more!

Jess’ work has been busy right from the beginning of term. During Freshers week, Jess endeavoured to make sure that there was still a high level of engagement from Freshers. She launched a page on Facebook for pre-fresher to join and network, as well as designing and marketing a Freshers’ Guide and Chapel Choir’s Guide. She also dedicated separate days to advertise each college’s music scene.

In the first few weeks she helped to host the Meet the Societies livestreams on Facebook and created graphics for new roles and positions. Throughout term she has shared ensembles’ auditions, posters, videos and more. She also created and compiled the Exec Bake Off Blogs that we did, took part in multiple planning meetings for pushing Music Durham advertising, and helped to centralise our publicity by creating pallets and fonts for the Music Durham Welfare team to create and circulate their own content.

Our Social Secretaries have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that the feeling of community within Music Durham has remained strong throughout lockdown. They aired multiple quizzes over the summer holiday, including weekly live-streamed quizzes. To introduce our societies, these weekly quizzes changed into an inter-society University Challenge.

For the start of term, the Social Secretaries launched our Music Durham Families scheme, providing essential support for freshers and maintaining the sense of community within our society. They put on a Freshers Quiz and a Challenges Social for people to partake in, whether in their households or online with their families. These were all well-attended and had some small chocolate prizes awarded.

Katya and Rosy have also been essential in promoting good relationships between the Music Durham Exec themselves. The two socials that we have had have been fantastic in ensuring that we are communicating well as an exec and working well together, especially with the first being a quiz about the other members of the exec.

Tech Officer was a newly introduced role this October, appointed to start up the Music Durham Tech Team. This term, Barnaby has mostly been working on deciding exactly what Music Durham’s tech offering should look like. To that end, he has assembled a small (but powerful!) tech team, decided how to spend the Music Durham tech budget and ordered all these items.

Over Christmas and the past few weeks, a lot of infrastructure has been put in place to ensure that everyone can access this tech when we can all be back in Durham. This will be free to hire for Music Durham members and ensembles – a real perk for having a Music Durham membership!

The newly formed Music Durham Tech Team helped to run their first ever event in lockdown: they recorded three individual performers in the Assembly Rooms Theatre for the DUCK x MD Virtual Concert on the 28th of November, and then ran the livestream for that concert. As well as this, the tech team have been doing plenty of behind the scenes work like video editing, mixing, mastering and research throughout the term to support Music Durham’s activities and to begin preparations for in-person meetings to come back again. A breakdown of how the tech budget has been spent can be found alongside:

This term, Ellie has been spending a lot of time helping the new treasurers, running treasurer training for the new treasurers and helping them create budgets. Since this, she has collected all the societies’ budgets and is in the process of thoroughly checking them to make sure that they are well-functioning and thought through. She has also been essential in decisions around the Music Durham Grants, writing the criteria that applications have to meet, and updating them so there is more money available for societies to apply for. We have also had many discussions about the breakdown of subs that members pay and making sure that those with Music Durham memberships are getting a good value for money!

This term, Hana’s job has been instrumental in ensuring the welfare of Music Durham members and the exec. She started the term off receiving her necessary Welfare Training, as well as taking extra courses in her own time. To aid her in her job, she advertised and interviewed her new Welfare Team, who have helped to her to launch and maintain an impressive social media presence. With a team behind her, she now has the capability to run more events (such as drop-ins), and bigger projects with more manpower behind her. She has also increased networking with other Welfare Teams around Durham to pool resources and ensure continuity. In creating engaging and useful Welfare campaigns, Hana has recently collaborated with RT Projects to bring us the ‘Stitching a Quilt for Community’ campaign over the Michaelmas Break and the most recent lockdown, building relationships with local charities and across our Music Durham community.