Jazz guitarist seeks top MU job

Guitarist Kathy Dyson is standing for election as General Secretary of the Musicians' Union - the first woman to do so in the union's 123-year history

Jazz guitarist, academic, composer and trade union activist Dr Kathy Dyson is standing for general secretary of the Musiciansʼ Union in the upcoming election, to be held during March.

She is the first woman ever to do so in the 123-year history of the union and is challenging current assistant general secretary Horace Trubridge for the post.

Dyson believes the union has to change. She says: “Iʼm standing for a more feminist, inclusive and collaborative approach to working together, and for a decentralised union that fights more strongly for funding, musical work, and instrumental music education in all the regions. We need to create a long-term policy and strategy for every area of music we cover as a guide for action. We must also involve members more fully in our collective endeavour”.

Dyson believes that organising initiatives, such as the American Federation of Musicians' Fair Trade Music campaign, will help to improve fees and generate better work for jazz musicians. She says many jazz musicians rely on instrumental teaching work, which she says is under threat from local authority and central government funding cuts.

She adds: “We can build on our existing work creating cooperatives with music teacher members. We can also help to improve fees, wages and conditions by focusing more resources on fighting funding cuts and working more collaboratively with regional arts organisations”.

Dyson has worked as a jazz musician and instrumental teacher since the 1970s. She holds a PhD from Sheffield University and was awarded the 2010 Parliamentary Jazz Award for Jazz Educator of the Year. More recently, she has been performing with fellow guitarist Deirdre Cartwright on the Emily Remembered project, a tribute to the late American jazz guitarist Emily Remler.

Musicians' Union members can vote in the election ballot 6-27 March inclusive. For details, see the MU website. More information about Dr Dyson's bid can be found on her website.

Bruce Lindsay

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