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Psappha said the loss of £250,000 a year funding from Arts Council England has proven 'too great a challenge to overcome'.

A member of the Psappha ensemble during a performance
Psappha has worked with more than 140 emerging composers on new compositions

University of Salford/Creative Commons

Manchester-based classical music ensemble Psappha has announced plans to close, six months after Arts Council England (ACE) confirmed it would no longer be part of the National Portfolio.

A statement published on Psappha's website said the loss of funding from ACE, which had constituted around 40% of its income, had "ultimately proven too great a challenge for an organisation of our size and scale to overcome".

Founded in 1991, the group is dedicated to commissioning, performing and promoting new music. It had received around £250,000 a year from ACE.


Through its Composing For… scheme, which launched in 2014, the group has worked directly with more than 140 emerging composers on new compositions.

"We write, with deep regret, to inform you that Psappha has made the very difficult decision to close," the statement said.

"The ensemble has had an outstanding history, and we still have plenty of ideas and plans for future projects. 

"However, the loss of 100% of our regular public funding from Arts Council England, which constitutes around 40% of our income in an average year, has ultimately proven too great a challenge for an organisation of our size and scale to overcome, especially in such a difficult funding climate for the arts." 

'Winding down'

The statement said that while Psappha has had to cancel all upcoming concerts, it is committed to completing its current Composing For… scheme as planned, after which it will wind down the charity.

"We’ve worked tirelessly behind the scenes and considered every possible alternative, but we haven’t identified a realistic new funding model that would allow us to continue working to the high standards we’ve set ourselves over three decades of commissioning, performing and promoting new music," the statement said.

"The outpouring of support we received following the November announcement that Psappha would no longer receive funding through the Arts Council England National Portfolio was overwhelming, and sustained us through what has been an extremely challenging six months."

Tweeting in response to the news Martin Fitzpatrick, Head of Music at English National Opera, said: "If [Arts Council England] is genuinely interested in new music and organisations generating work outside London then [Psappha] is exactly the type of organisation it should be funding. 

"This decision will take a long time for the Manchester new music scene to recover from."

James Turnbull, Chair of the British Double Reed Society, said: "The strength of response across social media to this news shows what an invaluable and irreplaceable part of the ecosystem [Psappha] has been. 

"It kills me to refer to them in the past tense and no tweet will ever do justice to this awful news."