CUTTING IT FINE
6 September 2012
Plans to slash £2.1 million from the budget for the BBC’s performing groups by 2016-17 seem likely to deprive the BBC Singers – the main supplier of live and specially recorded choral music to Radio 3 – of four of its members.
The cuts – equivalent to a 10 per cent reduction in total spending that will also affect the BBC’s five branded orchestras – have been announced by the corporation’s Head of Audio and Music Tim Davie following the publication of the Myerscough Report in June.
It is uncertain how much the BBC Singers can expect to lose from their existing annual budget of £1.8 million, but the threat of a further four redundancies following the recent loss of two members would see the critically acclaimed ensemble’s numbers reduced by a quarter over the past year to a cohort of just 18 singers.
Tim Davie described the planned reduction in spending as an opportunity to renew the ‘creative vision’ of the performing groups. Among the areas targeted for ‘savings and more efficient targeting and fine-tuning’ of resources by John Myerscough – a former parliamentary special advisor on the arts and author of the 1988 study ‘The Economic Importance of the Arts in Britain’ – are changes to the performing strengths of each organisation, changes to contractual arrangements, a pay freeze, and the sharing of administrative responsibilities.
The merger of the BBC Singers administration within the general management of the BBC Symphony Orchestra is ‘already under way’, added Davie.
As yet, there is no indication of how any reduction in monies made available to the BBC Singers would affect their performing commitments, repertoire choices, or their educational and outreach activities, which include working with young professional artists, composers and conductors.
The Report said the proposed level of cuts ‘should be achievable, but it will not be easy’.