Call to Action...

We are looking for people who would be interested in actively taking part in designing research to address issues faced by folk singers and organisers to join our Consulting Groups or the Access Folk Board. Please read about what's involved then consider filling out the form...

What is Access Folk all about?

Access Folk is about finding ways of increasing and diversifying participation in folk singing in England. The broad questions are:

  • What is the place of folk singing in contemporary England?

  • How do people want to engage with English cultural traditions through song?

  • How can we facilitate participation in folk singing in England?

Access Folk is built on co-production principles. This means that instead of academics leading the work, the people who will be most affected by the results share the power.

There will be a Board consisting of academics, folk administrators, singers, experts and other stakeholders from the wider cultural sector to make decisions on the research direction and use of resources.

Consulting Groups will provide expertise in specialist areas to advise the Board and feedback on the project as it goes along. Academics and ‘stakeholders’ will work together to design and deliver research, ensuring folk singing stays relevant in the 21st Century.

For more information go to About the Project

What are the Consulting Groups?

The Consulting Groups will draw knowledge together to advise the Board. The groups will be focused on the following specialist areas (drawing on the ‘protected characteristics’ outlined in the Equality Act 2010 and priority areas from Arts Council England).


Age

Including issues such as:

  • Folk singing in schools.

  • youth engagement in the folk singing scene.

  • ageing demographics in the folk singing scene.

  • and anything else your expertise suggests the project should consider.


Race and Ethnicity

Including issues such as:

  • ideas of Englishness among singers and audiences.

  • participation of other than white ethnicities in the folk singing scene.

  • participation of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller ethnicities in the folk singing scene.

  • representations of race and ethnicity in performance and archival collections.

  • and anything else your expertise suggests the project should consider.


Sexuality and Gender

Including issues such as:

  • sex and gender roles in performing/organising folk singing.

  • LGBTQ+ participation in the folk singing scene.

  • impacts of marital status, maternity and other caring responsibilities on participation.

  • representations of sexuality and gender in performance and archival collections.

  • and anything else your expertise suggests the project should consider.


Disability

Including issues such as:

  • access to venues and other folk singing contexts (in person and online).

  • participation of physically disabled people, and D/deaf, blind and partially sighted people, in the folk singing scene.

  • participation of neurodivergent people, people with learning disabilities and people with long term mental health conditions in the folk singing scene.

  • representations of disability in performance and archival collections.

  • and anything else your expertise suggests the project should consider.


Beliefs, Politics and Religion

Including issues such as:

  • the use of folk singing as an ideological platform.

  • associations of English folk singing with far right and leftist politics.

  • representation of Christianity and other religions and beliefs in performance and archival collections.

  • and anything else your expertise suggests the project should consider.


Class and Socio-economic Background

Including issues such as:

  • financial barriers to participation.

  • perceived authenticity of certain groups, such as working class and rural performers, over other performers.

  • representations of class and socio-economic background in performance and archival collections.

  • and anything else your expertise suggests the project should consider.

Who can join?

Anyone over 18 can join the Consulting Groups. There is no limit on how many people can join and we are looking for anyone with ideas or experience to feed into the specialist areas. We are looking for professional experience and marginalised lived experience in particular, though all with an interest are welcome.

If I joined, what would I have to do?

The Consulting Groups will have online meetings and some group/individual activities. These might include brainstorming knowledge you hold about certain topics, discussing and agreeing the priorities in certain areas, reading and commenting on plans the Board have made or documents produced during the project. Work will come in phases. The first phase will run from May-July 2022 and involve monthly meetings and offline activities, taking approximately 2-4 hours a month per group.

How often would I need to attend?

Participation in the Consulting Groups is flexible and you can drop in and out of meetings depending on your availability/interest in a certain topic. You can stop being a member at any point without giving a reason.

Do I need any qualifications?

You do not need any formal qualifications to be in the Consulting Groups. We are just interested in your experience and knowledge. This could be about folk music, but insights from people with marginalised lived experience who have been unable to access a folk music community are equally valuable.

Who can sit on the Board?

Access Folk has a Board whose members will oversee the research project, including making decisions about future activities based on the work arising from the Consulting Groups. Part of the Board has been directly appointed and part will be recruited through this open call. We are looking for a wide range of people from different backgrounds to sit on the Board. Even if you don’t have any previous experience of serving on a board, please don’t assume you’re not Access Folk Board material, you may well have skills, knowledge and experience that we would love to see on our Board. You can read more in our Folk Access Board - Terms of Reference.

Will I get paid?

Being a member of the Consulting Groups or Board is voluntary. Activity will be conducted online and reasonable costs of participation, such as internet connection or specific access needs may be covered (please email accessfolk@sheffield.ac.uk with any enquiries).

What would I get out of it?

This is a co-produced research project and your participation will help to determine the direction of research. As a member of the team you will make an important contribution to the project and help investigate how we can support English folk singing and singers in the future.


People who have been involved in co-produced research have described positive benefits of getting involved including:

  • learning about research methods and the topic being researched

  • developing a broader understanding of why and how research matters

  • developing practical skills by working with other participants and the research team,

  • the satisfaction of making a contribution and helping to improve the world around us

For more information about the Consulting Groups read the full Terms of Reference. For more information about the Board read their Terms of Reference. If you'd like to get involved in either then please fill out the form above.

If joining one of these groups doesn't feel right for you, but you are still interested in being involved in Access Folk there are many other ways to take part - please sign up to our Newsletter below to receive news of more opportunities.