The leading national orchestra and Plymouth music charity have been awarded the investment by Dunhill Medical Trust to forge a pioneering one year ‘Learning Partnership’. It follows negotiations with the two award winning organisations who share deep similarities in their extensive community work using music to support wellbeing as well as in their research partnership work with academics.

Dunhill Medical Trust specialises in funding medical research and community based work to enhance the lives of those who need support in later life. They also invest in improving links and learning between Universities and communities. The Trust recognised the potential value of the mutual sharing of expertise to further improve the impact of the two organisations, particularly for those older participants living with the effects of stroke and other neurological disorders.

Managing Director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, James Williams, says:

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) is delighted to be entering into this Learning Partnership with Plymouth Music Zone (PMZ). Funders such as Dunhill Medical Trust are extremely well-placed to bring together organisations working in similar contexts, enabling them to share knowledge and support each other in mutually beneficial ways. The Learning Partnership funding will allow the RPO and PMZ space and time to share our experiences with universities, working in healthcare settings and carrying out research, drawing upon resources where one organisation has more knowledge, offering support, navigating new areas of work and developing robust ideas based on different perspectives on shared areas of work. This model of funding awarded in response to real-time issues is vital in enabling organisations to increase capacity and diversify their programmes of work, and we are very grateful to Dunhill Medical Trust who have taken the initiative to offer this type of support.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) has a wider reach than any other UK orchestra and has a groundbreaking and award-winning Community and Education programme called ‘RPO Resound’ that’s been at the forefront of delivering orchestral outreach projects. It successfully underpins the RPO’s extensive programme of UK regional performances and international work. In the last year alone, RPO Resound reached nearly 10,000 people through a range of inspirational and creative experiences delivered by world-class musicians. The team travel extensively both nationally and internationally to bring meaningful musical experiences to participants in a wide range of settings, from hospital wards to aquariums, prisons to primary schools, and community settings such as its specialist stroke rehabilitation programme in Hull.

Plymouth Music Zone’s Executive Director, Debbie Geraghty, says it’s clear how much the two organisations have in common and welcomes such a valuable opportunity for sharing:

It’s thrilling to be able to create this new Learning Partnership with the internationally renowned Royal Philharmonic Orchestra knowing how much we share a passion for using the transformative power of music within communities to enhance people’s lives. There’s so much to gain from sharing learning in this mutually beneficial way. We’re delighted Dunhill Medical Trust sees the real value in small, diverse, locally based and responsive organisations like Plymouth Music Zone who become part of the very fabric of a city. Academics have already shown us how our deep and sustained way of working with music within communities helps to create meaningful social connections that successfully contribute to wider health and social agendas. It becomes less about how big or small an organisation is and more about the depth and the shared values and impact of the work being delivered. That’s what makes this such a potentially powerful exchange of learning. I can’t wait to explore so many areas with the RPO and to ultimately evidence the immense value of such responsive partnerships within the arts and research sectors.

The Dunhill Medical Trust funding will enable the RPO and PMZ to host exchange visits and identify a number of areas of learning in relation to their research and community-based activities as the Learning Partnership unfolds. It will also allow Plymouth Music Zone to build on its academic links by becoming a member of a new Advisory Board at Plymouth University’s Institute of Health and Community with the aim of deepening the understanding of the use of music to improve health and communities and the power of the arts to inform academic research and vice versa.

Dunhill Medical Trust has awarded Plymouth Music Zone £3700 to cover its learning activities for the year and just under £2000 to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to fund its side of the partnership. It is part of Dunhill Medical Trust’s capacity building programme of support and is the first time the Trust has used this kind of fully responsive approach to its investment. The RPO-PMZ Learning Partnership will run for a year until August 2019 and will feed back its findings to other organisations on completion of the Learning Partnership.