Alison Balsom Trumpeter

Alison Balsom Trumpeter

Artistic Director of Cheltenham Festival


Baroness Helen Kennedy, recently profiled in The Times, has said.
“If you want something done get a busy woman.”

Alison Balsam is a pretty busy woman, as the new Artistic Director of the Cheltenham Festival from next year.  But the very best part of her plan is that all participants should be committed to education. Like many musicians, and educators, she is appalled at the gradual decline of music and music teaching in schools, not because it make s kids learn better, but because it enriches and excites their lives, which creates a fertile ground for good education.   Not data driven testing.

Now she is taking on the Cheltenham Festival , so we look to see great programming.   She doesn’t believe in theming the festival, because it becomes restrictive.   Just get the very best musicians. sounds like a plan.

We know that women traditionally are expected to be modest, down playing their achievements, Quiet and polite you should be, but the first sound anyone makes with a brass mouth piece is a raspberry. How very unladylike. Continue reading


Sharon Gomez-Jones

Sharon Gomez-Jones has recently been filming in the new Mamma Mia. Although she has travelled the globe with musical theatre, Sharon is firmly rooted in her home, her community,  in  Thornton

Sharon teaches Jazz and Street dance

Singer, dancer, actor , Dance teacher in Thornton Heath

Heath where she lived as a child and trained as a dancer.

“My heart and soul are in musical theatre, acting, singing, dancing to be artistically satisfied.” Continue reading

Conductor Rebecca Miller

Conductor Rebecca Miller


   A woman conductor, who had strong role models in her mother,

and a teacher who made her realize that it was possible.

Different for women

I was first aware of a difference in treatment within the profession as a Conductor when I was Assistant at Houston and there were, as in every orchestra, players who will test your boundaries.  I started to experience it more from 2005, when I started to really take on professional positions.  I found I had to work extra hard at certain things in comparison to my male counterparts.   The more women there are, doing things that women should be doing, the more women start to do them.   It’s a knock-on effect.

woman conductor with SbS

Conductor Rebecca Miller

She says:  Ask some questions so that you really know who you are.

So many interviewers ask, “What are you going to wear?”.  They never ask that of a man, Continue reading

Women-in-Crime Sian West


 Sian West ex-Prison Governor

Sian West would go well with our other power woman the Lord Mayor. Full of energy and charisma, you are immediately aware of her presence

Having left the prison service she is now involved in Restorative Justice, she’s a volunteer for domestic violence, and music is her life.  “I breathe it, I live it, I eat it. “.    Not one to let the grass grow under her feet.

Choosing to be in the prison service as a Prison Governor was not typical for a woman 1978.

As a woman I wasn’t aware of women being treated differently, at school or university, then I joined one of the most macho institutions that you could ever imagine. The prison service, by definition, has to be quite male in that 95% of prisoners then, and now, are male.   You enter a male world.

Rather than a female, I am a just a Prison governor or an Operator, because those are the skills and abilities that people are relating to.

The most important thing I achieved was to have been in charge of 3 prisons and come out the other end alive. (  But I had the responsibility of life and death on my shoulders.)

Sian West when she was Prison Governor

now interested in Resotorative Justice and Domestic Abuse

I would  call myself a feminist, with a very, very small “f”.    I believe in equality.  But equality is a tenant of feminism, as opposed to female dominance.

My most important achievement was too have been in charge of 3 prisons and come out the other end alive.    But I had the responsibility of life and death on my shoulders.

Prison is different for women, Continue reading