Music service safe for a year

By Emily Pearce

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

 

THE Isle of Wight Music Service has been given a one-year stay of execution.

At last night's (Tuesday) meeting of the Isle of Wight Council executive, members agreed the music service would be axed in August 2015, rather than 2014, when it will be replaced with a remodelled music education hub.

Twenty-seven council staff, mostly music teachers, will be made redundant as a result.

The council has said it cannot afford to underwrite its losses — predicted to reach £200,000 next year.

The existing music education hub, of which the music service is the lead partner, has failed to develop a vibrant and sustainable business plan since it was founded two years ago, according to funding body Arts Council England (ACE).

ACE has warned the hub, which also comprises schools, community groups and ensembles must be radically overhauled if it is to secure funding beyond next March.

Following a consultation, the executive agreed the extra year would allow enough time for the hub to be remodelled.

Executive member for children’s services and education Cllr Richard Priest said he was confident the new-look hub would provide high-quality music tuition for all Island children.

"This is not a criticism of staff, who have delivered excellent services over the years, but we need to put an affordable model in place for the future," he said.

Cllr Steve Stubbings said the cash-strapped council would have no choice but to 'bite the bullet' after the one-year grace period.

Created two years ago, following drastic funding cuts to the music service, the current hub provides tuition to more than 2,600 schoolchildren every week, and around 550 children play in bands and ensembles.

Reporter: emilyp@iwcpmail.co.uk

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