Bedfordshire Music Under Threat

Just as the consultation period for the Henley Review comes to a close, we have heard bad news about Bedfordshire Youth Music, the local authority-run music service providing instrumental teaching, instruments, Saturday morning music schools and youth orchestra, band, jazz, opera and chamber music courses in Bedfordshire.

Central Bedfordshire Council, which hosts the Bedfordshire Youth Music Service (since Beds was split into two about a year ago), has announced its decision to cut the funding it currently gives the service to zero from April 2012. This is on top of huge cuts which it has already made to the music budget over the past year. It has also told the Bedfordshire Music Trust that it is no longer required. It still intends to provide IT, human resources, premises and payroll services, but that is all. Schools and parents will have to shoulder the full cost of instrumental lessons, instrument hire, and any Saturday morning music school or course costs.

This doesn’t sit very well with the aims of Michael Gove’s stated wish that every child should have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and sing.

I should declare an interest here to any readers who don’t know me personally (are there any?) . My husband Michael was Music Inspector in Bedfordshire for 18 years and it was he who built the music service up to being one of the best in the country. He still conducts the Youth Orchestra, and I conduct the Third Orchestra. The system has reduced somewhat from its glory days but is still strong. However, as a teacher colleague of mine pointed out to me recently, the rot set in when they started charging for lessons, a year or so after my husband retired.

I’ve set up a campaign page on my husband’s website which has some other information: click here if you would like to view it.

All this on top of a week where we’ve heard the news about Arts Council cuts has almost been too much. In fact the arts organisation I work for is not in too bad a position – a 6.9% cut and a further year of RFO status to try and build a future. However, we must all be aware that large swathes of our cultural landscape are under threat.

Published in: on October 29, 2010 at 11:01  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. This is awful. I bet Michael feels like handing back his OBE…

  2. Like many other Councils, Darlington is also in a ‘Pickles’ with a huge cut made worse by the new ‘freedom’ to take responsibility for the dirty work. We may lose £1.2 million of support for Cultural services. That means closure of everything. Volunteers are supposed to pick up the pieces. Thanks a bunch!

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