Music to suffer as cuts bite Bedfordshire

A PROPOSAL to cut all council funding to the youth music service in Bedfordshire has been met with national backlash.

Central Bedfordshire Council announced the proposal earlier this month which kick started a campaign by a former conductor of the Bedfordshire Youth Orchestra.

Michael Rose said: “The proposal by Central Bedfordshire Council is to reduce the funding that they give to the music service from April 2012 to zero.

“If that’s done then it’s important to say the cost to parents, to teachers, pupils, and to pupils in the future who want to learn will increase.

“I realise that the art budget will be cut, and it has been cut, but it seems rather excessive to cut it to nothing.”

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Mr Rose worked in Bedfordshire from 1972 to 1990 teaching music and advising the council on music policy and continues to conduct the Bedfordshire Youth Orchestra.

Mr Rose wrote a letter to his MP, he now lives in Buckinghamshire, which he then published on his website on a campaign page.

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The campaign has been picked up by the national press, respected music bloggers, BBC Radio 3 and distinguished baritone David Wilson-Johnson.

Mr Wilson-Johnson said: “I sang my first concerts in the Royal Albert Hall with Michael Rose and his wonderful young musicians in the seventies.

“The experience I gained then has allowed me to flourish and sing over the last forty years all over the world and I hate to think that Bedfordshire will return once more to the dark ages of music provision.”

The Guardian’s classical music blogger, Tom Service, wrote: “If Bedfordshire really is the canary down the mine, and other county councils follow suit, what will happen is that the children who would benefit most from musical experience, society’s poorest and most underprivileged, will never have the chance of accessing it outside the classroom, and music education will be a badge of economic privilege.”

Councillor Christina Turner, assistant portfolio holder for children’s services at the council, said: “No final decision has been made as to what will be happening with Bedfordshire Music.

“Central Bedfordshire Council recognises the important role that this service plays within our schools and community; however we must be realistic about how best to provide this service in light of current financial pressures.

“We are currently exploring a number of options and these options will be discussed in public Overview and Scrutiny Committee meetings where financial details will be made available.”

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