Council cuts to music services ‘beggar belief’

February 6, 2013 No Comments »

Music Service

A scheme which funds music lessons for children at schools in the most disadvantaged parts of Cardiff will stop under the budget proposals.

Labour-run Cardiff council plans to stop the Music Development Fund (MDF) – which helped more than 2,800 pupils last year – to save £173,000 a year.

City schools where at least a quarter of students are given free school meals – a common indicator of economic deprivation – receive MDF support.

But the budget says it only supports “very small groups of pupils” and savings through reorganisation can be made without impacting on quality.

The service, the budget states, has begun discussions with schools to identify alternative sources of funding for MDF, including the Pupil Deprivation Grant (PDG). The MDF services would be offered on a direct buy back service from individual schools.

The authority also wants to increase Cardiff County and Vale of Glamorgan Music Service tuition fees by 11% to raise an extra £151,000 a year and make the service cost neutral.

Music tuition is charged on an hourly rate and schools either pass on this cost to individual pupils, subsidise it or absorb it in their school budget.

The hike would see fees rise from £30.50 to £34.00 for maintained schools and from £33.50 to £37.50 for private schools.

More than 8,000 schoolchildren receive instrumental and vocal training from the service, as well as tuition for more than 24 ensembles based at the Friary Centre, off Greyfriars Road.

Essex Harvard pays £300 a year for his sons Patrick, 16, and Conor, 11, to learn cello and drums respectively. He said the proposed hike would put some parents off getting their children involved in music.

“It will serve to further ghettoise instrument playing and singing into a middle-class past time,” he said.

“This is more of an equalities issue, it’s about equal access to music and playing for every child in Cardiff. By removing the funding for the Music Development Fund many of the staff and tutors will lose their jobs.

“These are services that we cannot get back. This is opening the doors to a lost generation of musicians and this is from a city that promotes a Singer of the World competition – it beggars belief.”

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