Music initiatives launched to help dementia suffers 

13 Nov 2023

Two music programmes designed to provide support to people with dementia and their carers have been launched by The National Academy For Social Prescribing (NASP).

The £5m Power Of Music Fund has been established to distribute small grants to grassroots dementia choirs and music groups, with support from organisations including Utley Foundation, Arts Council England and Music For All.

Applications for the fund open on 22 November 22, providing money to cover basic costs, including room hire, transport and refreshments. 

One grant of £500k will be available for a new Centre of Excellence, which will test new approaches to embedding music as part of dementia care, gather evidence of cost savings for the NHS, and design new models of care which could be scaled up and spread across England.  

Already active is the Music Can website, which aims to help people living with dementia, carers and practitioners feel confident about using music as part of care, offering a directory of support, playlists, music activities and advice.

The platform builds on recommendations from last year’s Power of Music report and has been led by Universal Music UK and developed by Boston Consulting Group.

Speaking about the launch, Charlotte Osborn-Forde, CEO at NASP, said: “Music can be a lifeline for people living with dementia and their carers, creating moments of joy and connection when so much else is hard to cope with. 

“It is the perfect example of social prescribing and something that can have long-lasting impact on people’s wellbeing and take pressure off the NHS. 

“But dementia choirs and local projects often find it hard to keep going from one month to the next, and they are rarely well connected to wider healthcare services, meaning lots of people miss out on the benefits." 

“We want to help make music a standard part of dementia care – with doctors, link workers, and others offering music-based activities and referring people to the Music Can platform.”
 

Unions protest live music cuts at Northern Ballet

10 Nov 2023

The Musicians' Union (MU) and Trades Union Congress (TUC) will participate in a joint demonstration against proposed cuts to live music accompanying Northern Ballet's touring productions.

The General Secretaries of both unions will protest outside Newcastle Theatre Royal from 6.30 pm today (10 November) alongside musicians performing in the company's current production of Beauty and the Beast.

The rally marks an escalation of action by the unions, who are calling for Northern Ballet to reconsider its decision to replace its live orchestra with pre-recorded music for some performances to save money.

Last month, the Leeds-based company announced it had entered into “emergency discussions” with its core funder, Arts Council England, to “reassess the amount of live music” accompanying its touring productions from April 2024 onward.
 
The MU and TUC say the decision puts the livelihoods of musicians in the orchestra at risk and is symptomatic of a "lack of funding in the arts in the North".

Naomi Pohl of the MU said: "Musicians and the magic they bring to live performances cannot be replaced by recordings without a great loss to the art form. We are protesting not just for the musicians and their families but for everyone who believes in the power of live music." 
 
TUC Northern Regional Secretary Liz Blackshaw added: "The arts are a cornerstone of our society, and live music is essential to the fabric of performing arts. We stand with the Musicians’ Union in demanding a stop to this short-sighted cultural vandalism.

"We must protect our cultural assets and the professionals who dedicate their lives to enriching ours." 

Music teacher training bursaries set to return

09 Nov 2023

The Department for Education has announced that trainee music teachers at secondary level will be entitled to a bursary of £10,000 from September 2024, after previously axing the support in 2020.

The tax-free sum, which is less than half that on offer for languages and STEM subjects, will be paid in equal monthly instalments over the duration of a trainee teacher's course.

It's hoped the bursary's reintroduction will significantly boost the number of music teachers. Last month, an Ofsted report on music teaching in schools found some schools were experiencing challenges recruiting music teachers at the key stage 3. In a few cases, music had been temporarily removed from the curriculum because of a shortage of specialists.

According to the National Foundation for Educational Research, just 31% of the target for music teacher recruitment will be met in 2023. 

UK Music’s Interim Chief Executive Tom Kiehl welcomed the return of the bursary for music but said: ”There is still far more to be done to fix the current shortage of music teachers.”

Chris Walters, National Organiser for Education, Health & Wellbeing at the Musicians’ Union, added: “We urge the government to revisit its own National Plan for Music Education and review the other barriers that stand in the way of the plan’s delivery, including straitened school budgets and mixed messaging to schools about the importance of the arts.”

Meanwhile, Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive of the ISM, noted: “Despite the good news for secondary teachers, there is no bursary at primary level, where a lack of courses remains a point of great concern." In over two-thirds of the primary schools, Ofsted found that non-specialist teachers taught music, with over half lacking the subject knowledge to teach the curriculum well. 

The government has announced that trainee Art & Design and English teachers will also be offered a £10,000 bursary for 2024/25.

Partnership offers hundreds of gigs for young artists

08 Nov 2023

A partnership between two organisations based in Manchester is offering hundreds of paid gigs to young emerging artists.

Live music marketplace GigPig and arts organisation Reform Radio are collaborating to help artists launch their professional careers.

Reform Radio says it will use its platform to engage young adults looking for new opportunities, working creatively with them over a sustained period to develop new skills for employment.

The station supported 316 young people last year and has a community of more than 500 artists working with the organisation at any one time.

Meanwhile GigPig, which already offers artists a free platform to find, play and get paid for gigs, will match artists up with Manchester venues each month. 

Reform Radio’s Station Manager Robin Guérard said: “The ultimate goal is to enable the city’s venues to discover new artists, in turn giving young artists a platform to establish themselves as professional artists; from where they can build their profile and connections to secure repeat work.”

“I truly believe that with more partnerships like this, we will improve the industry for all new and existing professional artists.”

UK 'risks being left behind' in global music race

Tom Kiehl speaking at a panel debate
07 Nov 2023

UK music exports generated £4bn in 2022, but an industry body has warned that the sector needs more government support to compete internationally.

Former NPO’s entire catalogue acquired

07 Nov 2023

A Manchester-based ensemble that closed following the loss of its entire Arts Council England (ACE) funding has had its full catalogue of works acquired.

NMC Recordings announced the full acquisition of Psappha’s work earlier this week.

Throughout its 32-year history, Psappha commissioned and premiered music by more than 500 composers and also launched its own record label.

Announcing its closure earlier this year, the ensemble said the loss of £250,000 a year funding from ACE had proven “too great a challenge to overcome”.

NMC Executive Director Cathy Graham said Psappha’s contribution to living composers and the musical life of this country has been “immeasurable”. 

“We were enormously saddened to learn of their decision to close but proud and happy that NMC Recordings is able to safeguard their legacy by ensuring their magnificent recorded archive, which we have previously distributed, will be available in perpetuity.”

Study of Black music and record stores awarded over £240k

06 Nov 2023

Research that aims to compile a history of record shops specialising in Black music from the 1950s onwards has received a £247,494 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Led by Leicester-based organisation 2Funky Arts, the project called 'The Record Store and Black Music, A UK History' will produce a film, publication, podcast series and educational resource using collected interviews with artists, DJs, store owners and customers as well as documentation.

Describing the work as “groundbreaking”, 2Funky Arts said: “For the Windrush generation and Black diaspora, the early independent UK record store was a music-fuelled vehicle for resistance against systemic racism. 

“Such sites became fertile ground for new music, and cultural eco-systems that shaped society’s relationship with Black music.”

MU calls on government to save UK orchestras

02 Nov 2023

The General Secretary of the Musician’s Union (MU) has called on the Chancellor and Culture Secretary to take urgent action to save some of the UK’s best-known orchestras.

Naomi Pohl has written to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer asking for support for Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisations Northern Ballet, English National Opera and Royal Opera House, as well as other organisations “struggling with real terms funding cuts that threaten musicians’ jobs and pay”.

In her letter, Pohl said: “The financial pressures include the lingering impact of the pandemic closure period, rising costs such as energy, travel and accommodation, plus at best static public funding. 

“For organisations like ENO and Royal Opera House that run listed buildings, the costs of doing so have risen sharply, and this is affecting their budgets for creative output.”

“While the Covid recovery loans were intended to keep organisations like these running through the height of the pandemic crisis and out the other side, many cannot afford to repay them now without making significant additional cuts to their budgets.”

The MU has requested the government to consider a range of actions, including writing off Covid recovery loans for the live performance sector and making the extension of orchestral and theatre tax relief permanent.

Charity seeks support for musician development programme

01 Nov 2023

A talent development organisation has launched a fundraising appeal to support the next generation of jazz musicians.

The Tomorrow’s Warriors charity aims to raise £100,000 through its #IAMWARRIOR appeal to help sustain its free-to-access Young Artist Development and Emerging Artist Programmes. 

Music Week reports that the organisation relies on the support of funding and donations to continue to deliver its learning programmes that provide music education to the next generation of jazz musicians, with a focus on young women and those from diverse and low-income backgrounds. 

Mercury Prize winners Ezra Collective are among jazz musicians to have previously benefitted from the programme.

DJ and broadcaster Gilles Peterson said: “Tomorrow's Warriors occupies a unique and vital space in our cultural landscape. Their work in helping positively shape future generations is of critical importance, especially in light of the tribulations we currently face." 

More than music: The power and purpose of orchestras

Lincoln Centre's Summer for the City. From the audience's perspective, looking towards the stage.
31 Oct 2023

Rather than berate and fulminate against managers and funders, Robin Cantrill-Fenwick argues we must support orchestras through their current funding crisis.

Liverpool orchestra partners with Cumbrian port town

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra strings section
31 Oct 2023

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra will provide a three-year programme of concerts, community events and educational activities in Barrow-in-Furness, located nearly 100 miles to the north of Merseyside.

Sunak urged to consider musicians' rights at AI summit

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sat on a train reading documents
31 Oct 2023

UK Music Interim Chief Executive says government must uphold principles of consent and transparency amid advancements in AI to protect musicians and the sector’s talent pipeline.

Peers criticise Royal Albert Hall 'conflicts of interest’

25 Oct 2023

Fears that governance arrangements at Royal Albert Hall, which allow trustees to sell tickets on at huge profit, could influence decisions about how the venue is run.

Music hubs losing pupils and schools over rising costs

24 Oct 2023

Research finds music hubs and services are being forced to increase prices amid rising costs and funding gaps, but parents and schools are not always able to absorb the price hike.

MPs to scrutinise grassroots music venues 'crisis'

image of a drumkit on a music stage
23 Oct 2023

More than 120 grassroots music venues closed in the eight months between February and September this year.

ENO cuts: plans to reduce size of chorus emerge

The top of the Colosseum, ENO's London venue
18 Oct 2023

Planned cuts to English National Opera's chorus come in addition to proposals to axe 19 jobs from its orchestra in an attempt to balance the books.

Redevelopment of Aberdeen music venue ‘under review’

18 Oct 2023

Plans to redevelop performing arts venue The Lemon Tree in Aberdeen are being placed “under review” over funding concerns.

The £8.3m project received the green light from Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA), the organisation which manages the venue alongside another two of the city’s main arts spaces, last summer.

The development of the 550-capacity venue would see its performance space expanded, as well as new rehearsal and studio spaces. 

Aberdeen Council asked for an update on progress during an annual performance report into its arm’s length organisations last week.

When Councillor Marie Boulton asked if APA was moving ahead with the project, Chief Executive Sharon Burgess said: “It’s not off the table, it’s just under review”.

“The ambitions to develop it are still very much at the forefront of our mind,” Burgess said. “However due to the uncertainty around funding, this has been pushed back ever so slightly.”

During the meeting, Burgess also said there wouldn’t be an “immediate impact” to APA following the Scottish government’s decision to reinstate a £6.6m cut to Creative Scotland but added the whole sector could feel a hit in time.

Refugee music programme needs further funding to continue

17 Oct 2023

A music academy supporting Ukrainian refugees has said it requires further funding to continue its programme.

Last week, the London Performing Academy of Music (LPMAM) celebrated the graduation of its first intake of Ukrainian refugee music students.

Since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, LPMAM has enrolled 54 Ukrainian students, 32 of whom are studying in London, while the rest are studying online.

The academy has been supported by licensing company PPL and record labels association BPI, while scholarships for student refugees have been donated by The BRIT Awards and Universal Music UK.

But a press release published on behalf of the academy says it is “in desperate need of further funding from other parts of the industry to continue its programme”.

Speaking at the academy’s Winter Graduation Ceremony, LPMAM Founder, Dr Stefania Passamonte, said: “We’re so moved by this inaugural success of students saved from the conflict in Ukraine… even more so as three of them had to return after their exams and could not be honoured in person.”

ENO Director resigns over planned orchestral cuts

Martyn Brabbins
16 Oct 2023

Music Director Martyn Brabbins cites “a plan of managed decline” as reason for resignation, but the company says it is “confident it can maintain a substantial level of operatic work”.

Agency for female and gender-minority composers launches

16 Oct 2023

A new agency representing gender minority composers has launched in London.

Operated by Register, a music agency specialising in licensing and music supervision, 515 is a new venture dedicated to representing female and gender minority composers, artists, producers and sound designers. 

Only 2.8% of music producers are female, according to a study conducted last year by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, dropping to just 0.7% for women of colour. The same analysis showed that between 2013 and 2022, only 7% of Hollywood films were scored by women. 

Register founders Hollie Hutton and Hannah Charman said they started 515 to “open more doors for the underrepresented sectors of the composition talent pool”.

“We discovered, over the course of our careers, that the same handful of people were winning most of the work and that not enough gender-minority composers were even being pitched on projects."

Despite this, the Register team reports an increasing demand for female and gender minority composers.

Emily Richardson, Head of 515, said: “We’ve frequently been asked to scout them for film and TV projects and would continue to support them throughout the process, acting as agents. So we ended up thinking, ‘Why don’t we make this official?’”

“515 has been built on integrity. There’s so much amazing untapped talent out there. We really believe in what we’re doing and the potential to open filmmakers’ ears to a new world of composers while also making a change in the industry.” 

“I really do think that in 10 years’ time, the industry will look very different, and I strongly believe that this starts at grassroots level,” added Richardson.

“We need to be creating pipeline opportunities and encouraging people to take them. Those who are already here should be actively making the industry more inclusive, unlearning systemic biases, having equal representation at senior and board levels, and always having diversity front of mind.”

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