An ambitious five-year long research project has launched to investigate ways to increase and diversify participation in English folk singing.  Access Folk asks: 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?

Folk singer and researcher Dr Fay Hield at The University of Sheffield is leading a team of academics and community partners to work together to identify the current problems and test out potential solutions.  The team is 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 its Consulting Groups. The Consulting Groups will draw knowledge together to advise the Access Folk Board and will be focused on specialist areas (drawing on the ‘protected characteristics’ outlined in the Equality Act 2010 and priority areas from Arts Council England): age, race, gender, disability, belief and class.

Anyone over 18 with ideas or experience that feed into the specialist areas can join the Consulting Groups.  The team is looking for professional experience and marginalised lived experience in particular, though all with an interest are welcome.

In the coming months there will be opportunities to get involved through a folk singers’ survey to understand what existing singers get out of it and an events survey to see where folk singing is happening.  The team will also be recruiting for ‘ask a friend’ activities to explore the experience of people who don’t currently sing.  People are invited to sign up to the newsletter via the website for more information.