Make Music Day – for and by everyone, on 21 June every year
Author: Barbara Eifler, chief executive of Making Music and chair of Make Music Day UK
It’s the simplest of concepts: anyone can create or host or perform in a music event on 21 June and be part of the world’s biggest DIY grassroots music festival.
There are three conditions, it must…
- Be a music event
- Take place on 21 June (or if pre-recorded – premiering on 21 June)
- Be free for audience or participants to access
Make Music Day is about celebrating all kinds of music and music-making, in a public arena. In France, it is now almost a national holiday; a 2017 survey found two thirds of the population engage with it in some way (as performers or audiences).
From France, it spread rapidly around the world. Read about its history.
Some countries, including the UK, as well as encouraging and facilitating events at home, work in partnership on joint international projects. In 2023, for instance, the Make Music Make Friends initiative connected 11 primary schools in the UK to 65 schools in Thailand, Australia, the US, India, China, Pakistan and Italy. Read more about international projects and Make Music Day in other countries.
Make Music Day is for everyone, and by everyone: there is no judgement about who can take part – young, old, professional, amateur, proficient or beginner, singing or playing.
It is about bringing the music to the people, about people stumbling across new kinds of music or local performers or venues, perhaps on their way to and from work, as they’re shopping, or travelling. It helps encourage more and new people to actively engage in music, it allows established performers or groups or venues to shine a light on their activity, so often invisible for the rest of the year in halls or bars or arts centres.
So the focus is on performing in publicly accessible spaces (yes, digital is included these days!). But that doesn’t mean just outdoors: events have taken place in libraries, for instance, and train stations, shopping centres and hospital atria (and even in the Scottish parliament building), but of course also on bandstands and in town squares, on village greens, city streets, and in people’s front gardens.
So: why would a local council want to get involved? And how?
In recent years, Make Music Day UK has been working with Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) across the UK to help them see the boost such a day of music could bring to their town centres. Crawley BID trialled Make Music Day in 2022 and analysed its success; they were so delighted with it that they increased their support in 2023, and are now making it a regular feature in their diary. Their evaluation summary highlights, amongst other benefits, that the music activity meant "the BID was able to animate unexpected spots, and encourage spectators to move around the town to encourage foot-flow. Visitors enjoying the music brought additional custom to local eateries. Visitors stayed in town from daytime through to mid-evening assisting the daytime to night-time economy. The initiative had many unexpected outcomes and worked well for businesses and visitors".
So what can councils do to help?
This is not necessarily about money (though a small sum for expenses often helps).
But what councils can do is facilitate temporary licensing; make open or public space available, without too much red tape; perhaps manage traffic flow, put on additional buses and rubbish collections, and promote events via their website and social media.
Create the buzz and make your town, city or village a Great Music Place! A great reason for bringing more people to your area and benefitting your residents, individuals or businesses.
The following blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered professional or legal advice. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Association of Local Councils. Any links to external sources included in this blog post are provided for convenience and do not constitute endorsement or approval of those websites' content, products, services, or policies. Therefore, readers should use discretion and judgment when applying the information to their circumstances. Finally, this blog post may be updated or revised without notice.