Music service set to be axed

By Emily Pearce

Friday, April 25, 2014

 

THE Isle of Wight Music Service, a lifeline for young musicians over more than three decades, looks set to be axed this summer.

Although hugely valued by schools, students and parents, the Isle of Wight Council, which employs 26 music service staff, said it could no longer afford to underwrite the service's losses, predicted to reach £200,000 next year.

The music service is lead partner in the Island's Music Education Hub, which is funded through Arts Council England (ACE).

According to ACE, the hub, which also comprises schools, community groups and ensembles, has failed to engage its partners or develop a vibrant and sustainable business plan.

ACE has warned the hub — which received £135,000 in funding for the 2014/15 financial year, cut from £400,000 two years ago — must be radically overhauled if it is to secure funding beyond next March.

A council report, published today (Friday) is due to go before the executive next month.

It recommends closing the service from August 31 and remodelling the hub to better meet ACE's requirements that every child aged between five and 18 has the opportunity to sing, learn a musical instrument and play in an ensemble or choir.

It would result in job losses for the council-employed staff, costing the authority £207,757 in redundancy and pension payments.

According to the report, there is no statutory duty for the council to provide a music service.

It is proposed the new-look hub would be run under new management arrangements, with a new chair — who has already been appointed.

Executive member for children’s services and education Cllr Richard Priest said he was confident the remodelled hub could establish a sustainable, thriving music offer.

"People on the Island are clearly very passionate about music and the positive impact it has on young people’s personal development. We think there is a real opportunity for the hub to develop into something far richer than the current offer. I believe the proposals are the start of very exciting times for musicians on our Island, and will provide a viable and sustainable way forward.

"I appreciate the hard work and dedication music service staff have put into their fantastic support to Island children over the years," he said.

Created two years ago following drastic funding cuts to the music service, the hub provides tuition to more than 2,600 schoolchildren every week, and around 550 children play in bands and ensembles, yet a consultation on its future attracted just 110 responses.

The plans will go before the executive on May 6.

Reporter: emilyp@iwcpmail.co.uk

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by Richard Marlow

29th April 2014, at 23:27:26

Does anyone notice that this IOW council is axing services by the justification that it has "no statuary duty to provide" this service". Another £200,000 saved. Aren't the IOW councillors getting a rise in expenses this year? Still, every little bit will help.

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by L Lockyer

29th April 2014, at 21:18:53

Perhaps if ACE spent less money on funding music projects for their own
staff in London (i.e. spouses & personal friends etc); they wouldn't need
to cut their budget to well deserving, often forgotten places like the IOW.

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by L Lockyer

29th April 2014, at 20:47:12

Jacob Rodrigues is likely to know something about this.
His wife Pam Vision works in admin. for ACE. Ask them.
They are bound to know what all this is about.

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by Jeremy Gray

28th April 2014, at 13:21:44

For what it's worth, let's not forget that music grade exams, such as the ABRSM and Trinity ones that many music teachers enter their students for, carry UCAS points on university applications - in the case of a grade 8, that's 75 points, which is I believe almost equivalent to an A level C grade. Despite this some people still seem to regard music study as a frivolous extra. Apologies by the way, not sure why my previous comment appeared twice!

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by Jeremy Gray

27th April 2014, at 16:32:03

To respond to the last paragraph, the council report also states that a probable cause for the low number of consultation responses is because a consultation was held previously with a perception by many that little or no notice was taken of the opinions then expressed -presumably a lot of people felt that responding was somewhat pointless. Either that or they didn't know it was happening... Whether the publicity gained yesterday in Newport and on social/ broadcast media will bring about a change in funding plans remains to be seen, but I sincerely hope it does.

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by Jeremy Gray

27th April 2014, at 16:31:14

To respond to the last paragraph, the report also states that a probable cause for the low number of consultation responses is because a consultation was held previously with a perception by many that little or no notice was taken of the opinions then expressed -presumably a lot of people felt that responding was somewhat pointless. Either that or they didn't know it was happening... Whether the publicity gained yesterday in Newport and on social/ broadcast media will bring about a change in funding plans remains to be seen, but I sincerely hope it does.

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by neil jacks

27th April 2014, at 11:53:09

Mark hitchman, you are spot on. I would not be WHO I an today without my music.

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by alan naylor

26th April 2014, at 14:11:11

Great news these savings can go towards the fixing of the leaking roof at the coledge only 81\2 million to go its a comody of errors folks as usual

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by john jones

26th April 2014, at 08:26:07

the island also has a lot of other talented young people who get no funding at all. why should the arts and music industry be any different?

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by Steve Hastelow

26th April 2014, at 08:24:37

Well said Julia Bridgeman & Mark Hitchman, couldn't have put it better myself. The decision to axe the IWMS is unbelievable. If the public were not supporting the service then it would not be providing tuition to 2,600 schoolchildren every week. It's not public support that is lacking but Council support. While the Council may not have a statutory duty to provide such a service they do have a moral duty to keep it going. The cost of losses to the council of 200K per year is less than 1.50 pounds a year per head on the I.W. population! Get real.

Any views or opinions presented in the comments above are solely those of the author and do not represent those of the Isle of Wight County Press.

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