Building on the incubation support given in 2015-2016 by the University and the University College of Ghent, SIMM (Social Impact of Making Music) was from September 2017 on – thanks to the financial input from the Belgian Baillet-Latour Fund – established as an independent international scholarly association, with its head office in Brussels.
SIMM is organizing and accompanying international annual ‘SIMM-posia’, conferences, publications, as well as research seminars for scholars, practitioners of music projects in social work, funders and governmental representatives, who have in common their interest to do research, or to welcome or support research on the role music-making may play in social work.
SIMM was created as a Belgian (not for profit) association, although its management as well as its advisory boards are composed of persons coming from 7 different countries.
Current SIMM activities are:
- SIMM-posia: Although the platform was only created as an independent organisation in 2017, activities of SIMM started already in 2015. In October 2015, the research platform SIMM staged its 1st international SIMM-posium in Ghent (Handelsbeurs) and Brussels (Kaaitheater). The following SIMM-posia (Guildhall School, London, 2017 / CIPEM – Centro de Investigação em Psicologia da Música e Educação Musical, Porto, 2018 / Fundación Universitaria Juan N Corpas, Bogota, 2019 / Bozar, Brussels, 2020-21 / Paris (Philharmonie de Paris, 2021 / Guildhall School, London, 2022 / Queensland Conservatory Research Centre, Brisbane, 2023) serve as a notification of the intention to instigate the research platform, which from 2017 on started to develop an international network of people who are engaged, either as practitioners or researchers, with music-based social-artistic work.
- research seminars: Since 2018, groups of up to 20 early-career researchers from different disciplines and backgrounds can attend the yearly SIMM-seminars during which an intensive seminar programme is offered. Internationally renowned experts (researchers and practitioners) from the field of social-artistic work are invited as facilitators to accompany this work of in-depth reflection and exchange of experiences and thoughts: in Helsinki (Sibelius Academy, 2018), Antwerp (Antwerp University, Antwerp Research Institute for the Arts – ARIA, 2019), Fondation Royaumont (Abbaye Royaumont, 2021), Porto (CIPEM – Centro de Investigação em Psicologia da Música e Educação Musical, 2021), and London (Guildhall School, 2022).
- PHD-programme at the Guildhall School of Music, London: Since September 2018 SIMM is together with its main partner, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, partner and co-sponsor of a 3-year PhD-programme in London, focused on SIMM-research, thereby co-financing a stipend for some of the selected doctoral students.
- international comparative research: Under the supervision of Professor John Sloboda a three-year international comparative research project has been designed to investigating the practitioners who work with diverse groups in society to achieve social as well as artistic results. It will be set up under the direction of the Guildhall School of Music (London), in a close collaboration with researchers in Belgium (University College Ghent), Finland (Sibelius Academy, Helsinki) and Colombia (Fundación Universitaria Juan N Corpas, Bogota).
- SIMM-edition of journal Musicae Scientiae: In June 2021 Musicae Scientiae will release a special edition on research on social impacts of music making. This special edition is edited by SIMM-cofounders Brydie-Leigh Bartleet and Lukas Pairon.
The interfaculty and interuniversity collaboration which SIMM is encouraging is a unique initiative in this particular area of research, and the first of its kind in the world. Its aim is to provide guidance to and adopt a multifaceted approach towards doctoral and post-doctoral research projects in this field.
A considerable number of studies are currently investigating the possible social impacts of music-making on people (in vulnerable situations). The added value lies in the ‘association’ of different departments of universities and university colleges, and the fact that this type of research can, as a result, finally be collated and illuminated from a variety of different perspectives. This can serve to enhance the validity of the results.
In 2019-2020, SIMM can count on financial support from the Baillet-Latour Fund (for general funding), SEMPRE (in support of certain participants of SIMM-posia and SIMM-seminars), and also the Fondation Future 21, the Ministry of Culture of the Government of Flanders, the Ministry of Social Economy, Research and Innovation of the Government of Flanders, the Ministry of Finance of the Brussels-Capital Region, and the UK AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council; in support of the international comparative research).