Birmingham Contemporary Music Group seeks a Chair for their board of trustees. 

This is a unique opportunity to work with this pioneering and innovative contemporary music ensemble, and take it to its next stage of development. As Chair, you will work closely with the Chief Executive/Artistic Director and Board members, to take forward the strong heritage of the last 25 years and build an even more successful future.

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG) is one of the world’s foremost new music ensembles. Since its foundation in 1987 by musicians Simon Clugston and Ulrich Heinen, with Sir Simon Rattle as founding patron, BCMG was soon leading the field with brilliant commissions, innovative collaborations and an inspirational learning programme. BCMG has achieved and maintained their outstanding reputation by reaching more than 10 million people through concerts, broadcasts and events, performing over 500 concerts in venues across the UK, Europe, Mexico, India and the USA, commissioning and premiering over 200 new works by established composers and emerging talent and reaching more than 1,000 young people and families each year through its vibrant learning programme. Every year BCMG introduces more people to the world of contemporary music, expanding theirs and their audiences' perspectives.


Our Mission Statement

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group: Creating music for everyone and reflecting the beauty and challenges of our world today. BCMG believes that music has the power to bring people of all ages and backgrounds together. The Group builds an inclusive community of composers, musicians, and audiences; enabling them to share their spark of imagination, creating beautiful and strange sounds. BCMG embraces change, questions the ordinary and celebrates brave choices. Birmingham champions the free exchange of ideas, embraces all people and cultures and is constantly moving forward.  

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group: 

  • Gives world-class performances in the heart of Birmingham and around the world. 

  • Commissions new music by composers of all backgrounds. 

  • Nurtures new talent and supports young people as composers and performers. 

  • Engages audiences from all walks of life and of all ages with new music. 

  • Places the environment at the heart of everything it does.

Our Future

In March 2020, the world changed for everyone and BCMG changed too, the Group adapted and refocused to continue excelling in the field of contemporary music during the testing times of the pandemic. BCMG built an extensive digital programme, reaching new audiences by making performances and resources more accessible online, including commissioning the innovative project “Soliloquies and Dialogues” for composers in lockdown, and holding learning sessions digitally. BCMG also held its nerve and kept its scheduled engagement in Hannover to perform Karlheinz Stockhausen’s “Sternklang”. This seminal contemporary work was attended by 500 socially distanced people in an internationally significant and crucially covid-safe performance. The Group was one of few, if not the only English ensemble to tour Europe after the pandemic hit, demonstrating BCMG’s capacity and resolve to keep delivering exceptional contemporary music even in the most challenging circumstances. Throughout lockdown we, as a staff and board body took the opportunity to re-evaluate what BCMG was doing and why. The Group wanted to have a formal process for forming its next business plan, considering the ACE “Let’s Create” strategy and investment principles, with proper governance from the Board throughout the process. This was formalised at the start of 2021, engaging the whole staff, board and musician representatives in away days, and working groups for: programme, diversity, audience and NPO focus.

After many productive discussions, these outcomes were collated into three key organisational aims:


  • To present an ambitious and inclusive programme of work that is sensitive to the changing external environment and is robust and flexible enough to take advantage of new opportunities and to navigate challenges when they arise.
  • To return to live performances local and international, host international artists and promote English composers abroad, bringing the programme together creatively for the benefit of our Birmingham and West Midlands audience.
  • To demonstrate an integrated approach to live and digital projects through a bank of evergreen content, increasing our reach and accessibility.


BCMG has produced an innovative, fully integrated programme for the year ahead, using everything we have learnt over the last two years to make the most of the current freedoms and incorporate digital work as the external climate is still uncertain. BCMG’s work will continue to open dialogues between composers and audiences, the creative community, teachers, researchers, promoters and participants. We want to break down unnecessary and unhelpful barriers between different kinds of music, art forms, cultural traditions, work and practices to open opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to explore new music. Our work exemplifies how contemporary classical music can reflect modern life, and relate to the diversity, complexity and issues of the world around us. In 2022-23 BCMG will continue to diversify its digital audience, as well as returning to the stage. Our programme will explore what “new music” and “contemporary music” mean, and are in 2022-23, what they may mean tomorrow, and how we can inspire the next generation of performers, composers, listeners, young person and every child.


BCMG receives funding for its work from: 

  • Arts Council England: BCMG is currently a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) in our final year of this funding period. BCMG are in the process of applying to secure NPO status for the coming years.
  • The Paul Hamlyn Foundation have provided a large grant for the next three years in support of a research project titled “Listen, Imagine, Compose Primary”, exploring how children learn composition in a school environment. 
  • Birmingham City Council, through our ongoing relationship with City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. 
  • Numerous grants from charitable trusts and foundations
  • Individual donors to the Sound Investment scheme provide crucial funds for new commissions the scheme gives donors a unique experience in funding specific new music and gaining insight into the process from composition to world premiere. 

    Over the coming year BCMG are hoping to explore new avenues of fundraising including gaining corporate support from local business and branching out into different methods of individual and online giving. 


The Chair

Role Description

  • Lead the Board in providing strategic direction for the organisation and ensure that this is monitored by the Board. Ensure areas of responsibility delegated to the Executive are clearly identified
  • Chair in Birmingham meetings of the Board (minimum of four per year), report annually to the AGM and act as required in between Board meetings in consultation with other Board Members
  • Oversee the recruitment of new Board members to ensure that the make-up of the Board embraces a wide range of skills
  • Be the ultimate authority in ensuring that the organisation complies with all its legal and financial responsibilities, including resolving any conflicts of interest or failings of duty which may occur within the Board
  • Lead the appointment of the Chief Executive/Artistic Director when a vacancy occurs. Support and challenge the work of the Chief Executive/Artistic Director and carry out his/her annual appraisal

We are looking for a candidate who has the following qualities:

  • An understanding of the importance of the contemporary arts and an openness to contemporary music; an understanding of their non-commercial value and a general appreciation of new work
  • Excellent advocacy skills; a wide range and broad balance of contacts and a willingness to utilise known and new networks as potential sources of funding for the organisation
  • A proven ability to develop and lead a diverse range of people, serving on the Board and in the senior executive, to work to their strengths and secure the maximum benefit for the organization
  • An interest in the diverse make-up of British society and in the opportunities this affords the Arts
  • A proven ability to successfully oversee change, both within an organisation and in response to changing circumstances within a sector

And these additional characteristics would be desirable:

  • Experience of international working
  • Previous experience chairing an organisation
  • An interest in contemporary music and experience of meeting performing artists and composers
  • Knowledge of Birmingham and the West Midlands

The Time Commitment:

The Chair’s responsibilities equate to approximately 1.5 days a month. In addition to general support, this will include:

  • Four board meetings a year in Birmingham, typically lasting 2-3 hours
  • Occasional meetings of smaller working groups, where appropriate

Attendance at concerts and travel are in addition.

Additional Information:

  • Upon commencing the position, the new chair will receive full induction to the organisation and role
  • The Chair of Trustees is elected for 3 years, usually renewable for one further term
  • Trustees are unremunerated but necessary expenses are reimbursed upon request


Comments from Previous Chairs

“The greatest reward of being the Chair of BCMG has been the pride I’ve felt in the organisation’s achievements. It has been marvellous to represent the group in places like Washington, New York, Copenhagen, Cologne, Chennai, but also in the UK at major festivals and venues and in our home city of Birmingham. I’ve also immensely enjoyed meeting a huge range of musicians, artists and composers, not only those of the highest international standing, but young emerging talents.”

Stephen Saltaire, a former Chair


“Over some thirty years, BCMG has grown from an idea shared by two CBSO musicians and strongly supported by Simon Rattle, into one of Europe’s noted contemporary music ensembles. It has increasingly wide support in its home base of Birmingham where it presents a broad range of new music from around the world, and leads in the development of creative music-making by young people. BCMG attracts financial backing as well as strong encouragement from Arts Council England.”

Kenneth Baird, Acting Chair


How to Apply

To apply for the position, please submit:

  • A full copy of your CV
  • A statement of interest indicating why you are interested and what you are able to bring to the organisation
  • A completed Equal Opportunities Form (Download below)

We would prefer to receive applications electronically.

Your statement of interest should include details of relevant experience/interests, why you would like to be considered for this role and what you would contribute to BCMG’s Board of Trustees.

Please email applications to: [email protected]

Submissions are currently open and we plan to discuss the position with candidates in spring 2022. We are looking to appoint the chair in summer 2022

The Charity Commission prevents people from serving as a trustee if they:

  • Have an unspent conviction for an offence involving dishonesty or deception
  • Are currently declared bankrupt (or subject to bankruptcy restrictions or an interim order)
  • Have an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) to pay off debts with creditors
  • Are disqualified from being a company director
  • Have previously been removed as a trustee by us or the High Court due to misconduct or mismanagement
  • Are disqualified or barred from acting as a trustee of this charity under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006


Equal Opportunities Form (Word)

BCMG Info Pack (PDF)