Music Beyond Mainstream (MBM) was founded in 2001 by a half a dozen or so programmers in large scale UK venues. They found themselves bumping into one another at various showcases, gigs and networking events about exciting, artistically diverse music. A bar discussion at one event centred on how they could get some of this brilliant music into their programmes and bring it to a wider UK audience.

The idea was relatively simple. Pool resources and expertise to produce tours that diversified venue programmes and which would otherwise not go to UK regions in any comprehensive way.  Give give them mainstream treatment locally and enhance the profile with a national marketing campaign. The idea won support from Arts Council of England for a series of four tours in 2002/03 and a number of other venues that appeared to have similar programming ambitions joined the newly established network.

Working together the first tour was produced in the autumn 2002. The inaugural tour was Orchestra Baobab and was followed in the spring of 2003 by Gotan Project. To start with it was an informal collaboration.  It was formalised in 2005 as a not-for-profit company.  In 2008 Arts Council England (ACE) asked MBM to consider applying to become a regularly funded organisation (RFO) of ACE.  This has enabled MBM to develop our capacity to deliver tours more efficiently and effectively. 

The ten member venues drive the artistic agenda generating ideas and making decisions about what to tour. They elect 5 Directors who are responsible to the members for overseeing the management of the company and approving strategy and projects.  The Directors engage a General Manager to undertake the day to day running of the company and oversee the production of tours.  Tours are produced by a team of freelance specialists put together to meet the differing needs of each tour. 

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