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Spending review puts pressure on local authorities

25 November 2015, Alex Stevens

Council cuts: George Osborne delivers his spending review
Council cuts: George Osborne delivers his spending review

Chancellor George Osborne has delivered his spending review, including a £10bn overall increase in education spending over the course of the parliament and a promise of higher funding for Arts Council England. The review details departmental spending limits up to 2020 and beyond.

A new funding formula for schools will be introduced from 2017, with the aim of reducing geographical disparities in per-pupil spending. The Department for Education will run a consultation on the changes next year.

‘We will make local authorities running schools become a thing of the past,’ said Osborne. ‘Our goal is to complete the school revolution and help every secondary school become an academy … This will help us save around £600m from the Education Services Grant.’

In 2014 the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) led a campaign to protect music spending through the Education Services Grant, which is given to councils on a per-pupil basis and through which around £21m was thought to have been spent by councils on music education in 2011/12.

If the government’s aim to ‘make local authorities running schools become a thing of the past’ was achieved, any money spent through the ESG would also be lost.  

By the end of the parliament the direct allocation for local governments’ day-to-day spending will be £4.1bn less per year than it is currently. This means that non-statutory services, including councils’ support for music education and cultural provision, are likely to come under further pressure.

Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association, said in response: 'Even if councils stopped filling in potholes, maintaining parks, closed all children's centres, libraries, museums, leisure centres and turned off every street light they will not have saved enough money to plug the financial black hole they face by 2020.'

To mitigate the effects of budget cuts, councils will be allowed to sell off assets and retain all of the proceeds, and have been encouraged to make use of their reserves.

Spending on culture will be maintained, said Osborne: ‘Deep cuts in the small budget of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport are a false economy. Its core administration budget will fall by 20% but I am increasing the cash that will go to the Arts Council, our national museums and galleries.’

With its spending limits confirmed, the Department for Education should now be in a position to decide how much will be spent on music education hubs after the end of the current financial year.

Responding to the review, the ISM's chief executive, Deborah Annetts, said she was 'delighted' that the Arts Council's budget had been protected and welcomed Osborne's continued commitment to investing in the cultural sector. 

However, she said, the government's education policy did not reflect this commitment: 'We are therefore troubled by plans to continue with the unevidenced and deeply damaging EBacc proposal which excludes creative subjects and creative industry skills from our secondary schools.

'These mixed messages must be sorted out, and creative subject given equal value in our schools.

'The Government have proved their commitment to music education before, committing £75m to support music education hubs in 2015/16 (an increase of £18m) and we hope that this commitment will continue.’

Trinity Laban announces new head of keyboard studies

25 November 2015

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance has appointed Peter Tuite as its new head of keyboard studies. He succeeds Deniz Gelenbe, who will continue to teach at the conservatoire.

Tuite comes to Trinity Laban from the Royal Irish Academy of Music, where he was head of the keyboard faculty and then senior dean.

He joins a department including Margaret Fingerhut, Pascal Rogé, Elena Riu, Steven Devine and Eugene Asti.

He studied at Trinity College Dublin, the University of Oxford and as a Fulbright Scholar at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. He has recently finished making a new film of the Goldberg Variations at the famous Long Room Library; future projects include the recording and filming of the complete Haydn sonatas for keyboard and a new series of compositions based on short portraits of Dublin.

Trinity Laban director of music Claire Mera-Nelson said that Tuite 'brings a wealth of experience, both as a pianist and as a pedagogue, and his incisive and eclectic cultural knowledge and progressive view of music education will be a huge asset to us all.'

Trinity Laban: Piano and keyboard instruments

Joyce DiDonato launches Opera Rocks

25 November 2015

Joyce DiDonato has launched Opera Rocks, a free online newsletter for high school students.

The newsletter is funded by DiDonato herself, and she will regularly send videos, photos and messages to subscribers.

She said: 'I’ve noticed a fabulous trend from social media about young opera lovers: often times in high school, they will feel as if they are the only person on the planet who likes opera because they may be the only one at their school who (secretly!) has a passion for it. 

'Through social media, however, they can connect across cities, states, even countries. Many times a group of 15-20 of them have saved up and made the trip to their “first live opera”, and they meet at the stage door to complete their experience full-circle. 

'It’s been one of the most encouraging things I’ve seen in this business. I am simply giving back to them, letting them know they are not alone, and providing a platform for them to connect and share this wonderful, eye-opening world of opera.'

High school students can sign up for the newsletter here.

Opera Rocks

RAM appoints new head of musical theatre

25 November 2015

Daniel Bowling will join the Royal Academy of Music as head of musical theatre in January 2016. He will succeed Björn Dobbelaere, head of musical theatre since 2012, who is to pursue a full-time career as a musical director and conductor.

Bowling studied conducting with Michael Tilson-Thomas, Leonard Bernstein, Max Rudolph and Sergiu Celibidache. He started his career as a trumpet player, but has over 20 years of experience in musical theatre.

He has previously worked for Disney, Cameron Mackintosh, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group and Joop van den Ende's Stage Entertainment, and has been music supervisor for productions including Mary Poppins, Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables, Miss Saigon and Avenue Q.

Professor Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, principal of the RAM, said: ‘I am delighted to welcome Daniel to our talented staff. Daniel has a huge range of experience and expertise as well as a strong interest in the vital interface between the educational environment here at the Academy and the realities of the professional world.’
The one-year musical theatre course at the RAM was established in 1994. Students receive training in areas including acting, singing and movement, and participate in career development sessions. The course culminates in a performance to agents and casting directors.

Royal Academy of Music: Musical Theatre department

Music education hubs await grant confirmation

25 November 2015

Today's comprehensive spending review will confirm the levels of funding from which music education hubs receive their grant.

George Osborne will give his autumn statement at 12.30pm, in which he will set the level of government spending from April 2015 onwards.

While the per-pupil budget for schools is protected, the amount which hubs will receive from April 2016 is still unknown.

However, Russell Hobby, general secretary of NAHT, suggested that more government funding is needed to ensure that high standards in schools are maintained.

He said: 'Schools face rapidly rising costs with nothing extra provided by the government to cover them. We fear this will have an adverse effect on standards […] Put simply, all schools need teachers and if you cut budgets, you cut staff. Children and young people will get less support, a narrower curriculum and a poorer deal.

'It’s time the government stopped seeing education as a cost; it’s an investment, whether for early years, schools, or post-16 education. In the end, the country gets out what it is prepared to put in.'

The BBC's Brian Wheeler has suggested that cuts to arts funding are likely, with the National Lottery expected to make up the shortfall.

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