How do your personal values influence the decisions you make in your working life? Do they affect what you say yes and no to, and how you interact with others?
We’ve been thinking a lot about this recently, so we caught up with some of the brilliant freelancers within the Brighter Sound community to find out what they had to say on the subject.
Hosted by our colleague and pal Phill Howley, here we check in with musician and facilitator Balraj Samrai about how his values influence his approach to accepting work.
Read or listen at your leisure!
Phill (P): What does the term ‘values’ mean to you when it comes to your delivery?
Balraj (B): It’s definitely something that’s at the heart of everything. I try to embed it throughout, especially when working in an education or facilitation setting. Whether it’s children, young people, young adults or mature adults, it’s about having the same ethos and approach. Trying to make sure you’re being aware of anybody’s particular needs, making sure it’s available for people to get involved, and you’re not setting the access point too high. But also reacting to what the requirements are at the time.
P: Do you find that there’s a distinction when it comes to values and ethics between you as a facilitator and you as an artist? Or is there any crossover?
B: Yeah I’d say so. I’ve been doing a lot of mentoring, working with quite a lot of young musicians informally as well as doing more formal facilitation work. And I’m finding more and more there’s a lot of crossover in terms of approaching things from a safeguarding or professional perspective, and trying to be a role model to younger artists in how to go about their work. So yeah, they feel quite aligned actually. A little bit more so in terms of musical output as well. I feel like they were quite separate for a while. Over here I’d be DJing and doing a lot of club-friendly music, then doing something quite different for a project, say for Brighter Sound or on a residency. But now they feel a little bit closer together.
P: Do you look at an institution or an organisation from a values-led approach when you’re thinking about working with them, or is it something that you just pick up as you go along?
B: For me it’s thinking about that in terms of who your partners are gonna be, whether they actually align with yourself, and whether it would be a good match. So yeah, I am quite careful about that. I think sometimes you might get people who want a particular outcome, but don’t actually show that in how they approach their work. I’d probably prefer to see evidence and examples beforehand, rather than just being brought in to kind of buy-in a certain approach. It’s much better if it’s across the organisation. But then also, there might be room to challenge an organisation you’re even fairly aligned with, just to see if they can go further. And within that it’s having the safety to be able to speak your mind, and it not have some kind of negative impact, like you won’t be asked to work again or you won’t get brought back in on things. That ability to say what you see honestly and frankly, and for them to understand that it’s not an attack necessarily. It’s actually coming from a caring place.
P: Are there any other traits or behaviours that automatically make you go “oh yeah I’m on board with you as an organisation”?
B: I guess it’s action again, isn’t it? It’s easy to talk or to put out a statement or to align with something. But it’s different to deliver on it. But also a commitment to reflection within the team, and understanding that you’re not gonna get it right every time and being open to that. Research that might be going on internally perhaps as well, I’ve definitely seen that in some organisations. I also like it when organisations are open to collaborating with other organisations. It shows that it’s not a competitive thing. A bit more of a community approach I think is needed, probably more so now than previously.
P: Fantastic. So to finish, is there anything you’d like to plug?
B: I’ve just founded a magazine with friends Tunde Adekoya and Kamila Rymajdo. Tunde’s Artistic Director of Big People Music, and Kamila’s a freelance journalist who’s worked with all kinds of magazines over the years. There’s a lot of organisations doing great work already, but in this area we felt like there was a gap for publications from the North that looked at centring Global Majority and marginalised voices and stories that aren’t always archived. So we’re keen to redress that balance. It’s called SEEN Magazine and we should be launching in October.
Want to find out more about values?