The tagline of this article on Charlotte Higgins’ culture blog on the Guardian’s website is depressing, to say the least: ‘Looming cuts to university arts and humanities departments destroy the consensus that the arts have inherent value’. The consequences are already beginning to show. Few musicians I have worked, played and studied with are continuing to pursue careers in music, opting instead for ‘safer’, and potentially more lucrative careers elsewhere.
Education was another area with cause for concern. In the eighties, when LEAs were given free reign to decide how much money they allocated to music, there were disastrous consequences – and some feared the same may happen here. The culture minister Ed Vaizey has said that money will be ringfenced for music education and provision next year – although what the figure will be, and whether cuts will have to be made as a result of that, is yet to be seen. Further questions arise when you see that Central Bedfordshire Council plan to stop funding their music service, meaning that music education will become considerably more expensive, and therefore inaccessible for a large proportion of children. Will the government intervene to stop this?
However, despite all this doom and gloom, there are a few schemes shining few. The London Borough of Newham has launched their Every Child A Musician Scheme, which offers free tuition to pupils throughout years five and six, with the opportunity to keep their instruments if they progress well. I refuse to believe that this is the only wonderful arts scheme going against the grain during these difficult financial times. Does anyone know of any other schemes that are battling through, despite the cuts? I’d love to hear about them – these fighters need some promotion!
[Edit: Just stumbled across a BBC article discussing fears for future of school music lessons. One in five music services expect councils will completely axe their grants. Funding allocations should be out in early December, so not too long to wait to find out what will happen…]