Delivering the ISM's founding vision Jump to main content

Delivering the ISM's founding vision

Our Chief Executive, Deborah Annetts, shares the thinking behind changing the name of the ISM on 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, a new Prime Minister with a new vision and great challenges overseas we are entering into unchartered waters.

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. 2022 is our 140th anniversary. To be precise we were founded on 7 October 1882 and to mark this important anniversary we have changed our name to the Independent Society of Musicians, alongside a raft of changes. First of which was the launch of the new look Music Journal with its striking new colour palate. The new style Music Journal is packed full of news and so far feedback has been very positive. This edition covers the historic result achieved by the ISM legal team in the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land on holiday pay. Our member Lesley Brazel supported by the ISM 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 also cover our 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 at the end of September we launched an incredibly important report, Dignity at work 2: Discrimination in the music sector which exposes the devastating scale of discrimination (including sexual harassment and racism) in all parts of the music sector, including education. Those working in the music sector have come forward and shared with the ISM their deeply felt personal testimonies and we thank them for taking this step. We hope that this important report will be a vehicle for change in the music sector, making it unacceptable for anyone to commit discrimination or harass their fellow workers. Join us to discuss the findings of the report and our recommendations in a free webinar on discrimination in the music sector on 19 October, 5-6pm.

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.

And so to celebrate 140 years of standing up for musicians and providing support and advice, we changed our name to the Independent Society of Musicians on 7 October.

These changes are about the ISM investing in the future. With a new name 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.