Singing for Equality
Summary Fundraising Case for Support for
LEGATO European Association of LGBTQ+ Choirs
A. What a wonderful world this would be …
Imagine waking up one morning in a place where homophobia and transphobia are part of your normal life, but where for the first time as a choir singer you are able to perform as a proud and equal member of your community, as one who is unafraid to declare your LGBTQ+ status to the world. Just think about the life-changing impact that will have not just on you but on your family, friends, neighbours and colleagues, all of whom will be able to hear and see you performing free of fear and rejoicing in who you are. To quote the words of the James Taylor song: “What a wonderful world this would be’’.
LEGATO European Association of LGBTQ+ Choirs believes that such a vision of a future world is indeed possible, and that we can help create it.
To that end, we are launching a programme – Singing for Equality - to encourage and support European LGBTQ+ music makers to ensure that eventually – over a 20-year timeframe – there will be an LGBTQ+ choir or one that commits to supporting LGBTQ+ singers in every major city in Europe, creating a safe space for all. We estimate that will result in not less than 500 choirs, engaging with a population of 750 million, of which perhaps 5% could identify themselves as LGBTQ+.
In order to gain momentum and start to register real impact which will spread the word about what we are doing far and wide, we will proceed step by step in phases over our 20-year timeline. Phase One will cover the first five years of our programme, and that is what we will now concentrate on and learn from: our particular focus will be on supporting choirs in chosen cities in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe where there is open, frequently expressed and institutionally tolerated discrimination and prejudice against all LGBTQ+ people. In doing so, we want to play a powerful role in the wider campaigns for LGBTQ+ human rights within those countries, and thereby empower the maximum number of people to sing in freedom and solidarity with each other, and for their audiences to attend performances without fear.
We are happy with the progress we have made so far over 40 years, but we want to go much farther than the point we have reached today. We know we are aiming high, and are proud to be doing so, while at the same time carrying on with our day-to-day mission of supporting the existing member choirs in our network. Here is how we intend to go about transforming the future of LGBTQ+ choirs in Europe.
B. What do we need to get us there?
We clearly need to secure resources for our current work as well as for our future ambitious growth and development. We cannot aim for a growth programme without maintaining and enhancing our existing support for our member choirs. The Board has made an assessment that the following Seven Key Levels of Support are needed if we are to enhance our existing Mission as well as realise our future Vision:
1. Providing leadership training and support:
2. Proactively addressing the diversity of our movement:
3. Widening the availability of the broadest ranges of past, current and future music:
4. Providing easy access points for LEGATO resources to be made available to individual member choirs and the singing and non-singing members within them:
5. Offering a general as well as customised training and workshop service in choir development and sustainability:
6. Improving and extending the number and quality of our marketing and communications media and technology tools:
7. Ensuring that LEGATO itself is securely funded:
C. Who will be impacted by our future direction?
To deliver such a bold programme fully, we are planning to engage with the following communities:
• Our member choirs: their musical teams, management teams, marketing and communication teams, singing and non-singing members and volunteers.
• The families and local communities in which those choirs operate.
• Our partner organisations in the worldwide LGBTQ+ choral movement.
• Our donors, sponsors and funders.
• Those who work for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the LGBTQ+ world.
• Composers and arrangers of choral music.
• Music production and distribution organisations.
• All other LGBTQ+ organisations, especially in the localities of our member choirs.
• All other organisations and individuals who support equal rights for LGBTQ+ communities, and equal rights for all.
• Diverse musical organisations, funders and individuals who understand the power of music to change lives.
• The municipalities, civil society organisations, political groups and faith 48 communities who support what we are doing and are connected to the localities of our existing and future member choirs.
D. How much do we need financially?
Our current income is based largely on the subscriptions of our members. Up to now, our expenses have been minimal as we have only recently started actively providing training and support services to our member choirs. In addition, we subcontract each Various Voices Festival to the host city and in return receive an income based on a fee and percentage basis, which are invested for future use.
We now have to rise to the challenge and change dramatically our funding requirements if we are to deliver what is needed for our Seven Key Levels of Support. After an initial post-pandemic year to ensure we aim to get back financially to where we were before the crisis, over the succeeding five years our total income is forecast to be in the region of €30,000
We have provisionally crafted ten projects that we will need to deliver to cut across and incorporate each of the Seven Key Levels above. On the basis of preliminary costings, these ten projects would result in a Funding Need of not less than €280,000. We, therefore, have a Funding Gap to be filled of not less than €250,000. That is our overall Fundraising Target for our Singing for Equality programme. Here are the ten Projects that we intend to fund step by step:
i. LEGATO Leadership College
Providing a range of learning projects and opportunities both virtual and in-person for music and organisation leaders, marketing and communications teams.
ii. The Music Strongroom
A project to compile and maintain an enduring, diverse, extensive and representative database of copyright-compliant vocal music scores that celebrates European languages and culture through the prism of LGBTQ+ experience.
iii. The Music Greenhouse
A project to commission new compositions and arrangements that will nurture relationships with new and established composers and lyricists, with an emphasis on less represented communities in order to reflect our focus on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
iv. Nurturing the Pathways for Growth
A project to provide consultancy and mentoring support for member choirs to provide them with access to professional experts in music, choir development and organisation.
v. New Choirs Nursery
A broad project comprising varied components to motivate new choirs in cities where we have initiated an initial interest or where a kernel of activity needs further help to get going or re-start.
vi. Choir Incubator
To kickstart a nurturing programme to sustain newly formed choirs in order to ensure their sustainability and longevity as they establish and develop their own music and financial autonomy.
vii. City and Regional Festivals Hub
Providing loans coupled with access to our expertise in our successful Various Voices Festivals in order to initiate and encourage new city and regional song festivals.
viii. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Accelerator
Learning and sharing from our own experiences as disenfranchised and unequal minorities, by creating an Accelerator programme that addresses any inequities within our own ranks.
ix. Insurance and licensing Resource
Meeting as closely as possible the needs of choirs at every stage of development while operating in their home city and also travelling outside to perform, we will create relationships with reputable insurance and licensing companies that offer a range of professional services
x. LEGATO Capacity Building
Ensuring that we can deliver the end results of ‘Singing for Equality’, we need to transition from a volunteer-led board whose members have to undertake a wide variety of individual tasks in addition to their own choir responsibilities toward a better-resourced operation blending paid staff with volunteers.
E. How will we raise the funds to fill this £250,000 Funding Gap?
Our fundraising campaign to realise our ‘Singing for Equality’ programme will focus on the first five years of a 20-year programme, and learn from that experience for the remaining 15 years. In addition to enhancing and improving our services to our member choirs as part of our current mission, this Phase One will help set up, nurture and support new or fledgling LGBTQ+ choirs in Central, Eastern and Southern Europe.
Our provisional goal is to work actively to support a minimum target of supporting five choirs over the first five years, and with at least one choir in each of those three European regions. Starting with a goal of one choir in Year One, we will proceed step by step to continue mentoring each choir already involved, and then add one new target each year.
A detailed fundraising strategy will be produced in early 2022, and it will determine the direction and pace of our efforts. This will cover all aspects of how we intend to get to where we want to go. Active planning is now underway for the Phase One fundraising programme, which we anticipate once it starts will last for up to three years and cover the funding needs of the first five years.
The process of identifying specific types of supporters who are likely to be interested in different aspects of our work is the responsibility of a sub-committee of the LEGATO Board of Trustees. This group is currently in discussion with individual singers in our member choirs who want to work with us to develop aspects of this programme.
You may be a singer yourself in a queer choir, or perhaps a singer in another choir or just a lover of music – or else a supporter or a funder of the power of music in transforming lives and equal rights for all members of queer and diverse communities. In whatever ways you may be situated, please join us and get involved.
Whether actively fundraising or supporting us in other ways, our ‘Singing for Equality ’ campaign will have a role for you.
Following on from the Case for Support, a Fundraising Strategy for LEGATO is now being developed. It will identify how we will go about raising the required funds and from whom, in order to deliver this exciting vision for a Europe in which all LGBTQ+ singers will be able to celebrate who we are and enjoy singing with confidence and safety.