Networked Innovation in Classical Music: Collaborative Ecologies in Creative Cities

In a collaboration between SPARC and the Maastricht Centre for Innovation in Classical Music (MCICM), this network aims to bring together classical music researchers, practitioners and audiences in seven cities across the UK, The Netherlands and Austria.

With funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), we will explore our selected cities, looking at how the universities, conservatoires, and musical organisations in each place can share their vision for classical music in the locality.

Networking Objectives

To create a network of academics and practitioners with ambitions to strengthen and innovate the classical music sector to face the challenges of the decades ahead.

To devise a framework to facilitate the building of networks in UK and European cities, through structured and supportive conversations.

To support ECRs and PhD students in music, audience studies and related disciplines to develop skills for researching collaboratively with arts sector partners.

Intellectual Objectives

To identify and address the barriers to classical music organisations working together to build new audiences in a city.

To challenge entrenched assumptions about the training and career paths of classical musicians, and consider how to equip conservatoires and musicians to innovate in the sector, by sharing alternative models and best practices.

To share this knowledge across academic disciplines in order to bridge gaps in understanding and identify key areas for future research.

Impact Objectives

To effect meaningful change in the cities where the network is focused and build partnerships for future collaborative working.

To create a model for working across cultural ecologies to enrich the lives of students, musicians and audiences in the classical music sector.

To share knowledge and good practice nationally and internationally, to increase the ability of educational and musical institutions to respond to the challenges facing classical music and its audiences.

Network Reports

Final project report: AHRC Research Network: Networked Innovation in Classical Music: Collaborative Ecologies in Creative Cities

(See here for the project report translated into Dutch and German).

Individual city reports for each of the seven focus cities of the project:








Network activities

January 2023

An online launch meeting with the lead academics and advisory board was held to shape our ideas and consider the usefulness of the network to the classical music organisations in each city. Following this, we are considering how to encourage the sharing of ideas in each location, across themes including musical careers and opportunities, urban spaces and connections, cultural value, and audience development.

14th & 15th September 2023

The AHRC Network on Innovation in Classical Music welcomed PhD students and early career researchers in audience and cultural policy studies to a two day symposium in Sheffield.  Details of the symposium and notes from our discussions are available here.

October 2023 - January 2024

City research: surveys, conversations and group discussions with music makers and organisations in the seven focus cities of the network

January 2024

The Network held an online open symposium on 18th January 2024 to discuss where classical music organisations can turn for help in a time of uncertain funding, ageing audiences and precarious arts careers. Those invited to the symposium included music practitioners, music educators and students, orchestral musicians, directors, and administrators, and academic and artistic researchers.

Symposium organisers: 

Prof Peter Peters, Director Maastricht Centre for the Innovation of Classical Music (MCICM), Maastricht University

Prof Stephanie Pitts, Director Sheffield Performer & Audience Research Centre (SPARC), Sheffield University

Our lead academics are working with us to build networks in their cities, and to contribute their expertise in music education, audience research and musical careers.

Professor Stephanie Pitts


Department of Music, University of Sheffield; Director of Sheffield Performer and Audience Research Centre (SPARC)

Professor Peter Peters


 Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University; Director of Maastricht Centre for the Innovation of Classical Music (MCICM)

Dr Kirsty Devaney

Lead Academic

Birmingham City University; Key organisations: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group

Dr Jennie Joy Porton

Lead Academic

Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama/ Cardiff University; Key organisations: Welsh National Opera, Sinfonia Cymru, Wales Millennium Centre

Dr Emily Doolittle

Lead Academic

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland; Key organisations: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Sound Scotland, Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra

Professor Karen Burland

Lead Academic

University of Leeds; Key organisations: Opera North, Leeds 2023 Year of Culture, Clothworkers’ Hall

Dr Sarah Price

Lead Academic

University of Liverpool; Key organisations: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Tung Auditorium

Professor Constanze Wimmer

Lead Academic

Kunstuniversität Graz; Key organisations: Recreation Orchestra, Grazer Philharmoniker and the Oper Graz

Dr Karolien Dons

Lead Academic

Prince Claus Conservatoire /Research Centre Art & Society, Hanze University of Applied Sciences; Key organisation: Noord Nederlands Orkest

Advisory Board

Denise Petzold MCICM

Martin Tröndle Experimental Concert Research project  

Jutta Toelle Experimental Concert Research project

Ben Walmsley Centre for Cultural Value 

Michelle Phillips Royal Northern College of Music 

Paul Craenen Royal Conservatoire The Hague 

Tom Spurgin Manchester Collective / City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra 

Neil Tòmas Smith MCICM / University of Edinburgh 

Madeleine Pill Urban Studies, University of Sheffield 

Abi Gilmore Arts Management and Cultural Policy, University of Manchester 

Kate Blackstone Young Classical Artists’ Trust

The 7 cities of the project, across the UK, the Netherlands and Austria