The Musicians Benevolent Fund has appointed Graham Sheffield as its new chairman, and has decided to adopt a new name: Help Musicians UK. The 92-year-old organisation won’t be dropping its old identity entirely, however, instead keeping it in the background as a reminder of its long history.
Sheffield, formerly artistic director of the Barbican and currently arts director at the British Council, will be taking over the helm from Richard Lyttelton, who has chaired the organisation for six years.
Sheffield will be overseeing the MBF’s efforts to raise its profile and fundraising potential, though a strategic planned called ‘Time to evolve’. The charity’s stated aim for the future is ‘to reach more musicians who need help and support across the profession, from those starting out on their careers through to retirement and beyond’.
The new name will not come as a surprise, since it has formed the organisation’s web address since 2011 (www.helpmusicians.org.uk), but now it is being brought to the forefront, with a new brand being developed over the next few months.
Explaining the reasoning behind the change, David Sulkin, the chief executive, said: ‘We have listened to musicians of all ages and genres and know that the word “benevolent” is considered old-fashioned by those we have a responsibility to reach. Calling ourselves Help Musicians UK will help us do the job we are here to do.
‘This is a perfect time to thank Richard Lyttelton for all of his outstanding work as Chair and also to say how delighted we are that Graham Sheffield has agreed to lead us into and through our next phase of growth and development.’
Sheffield commented: ‘I have played, listened to, studied and written about music since the age of seven. Music of all kinds has given me many of the most inspiring, memorable experiences in my life. My conviction in its fundamental importance to the culture and richness of society in the UK grows by the year.
‘Music is something we in the UK are very good at. It is vital to secure its future as well as to nurture those who have contributed in the past. The health and sustainable prosperity of all our musicians, both young and old, is vital to this effort.
‘As I continue to enjoy the work of our superb musicians, I should like to contribute something back to the profession through advocacy, support and innovative strategic ideas. I am delighted to be able to realise this ambition through the fantastic work of the Musicians Benevolent Fund and I am particularly excited to be taking on the role of Chair at such an important time in the organisation’s development.’