Newport Council threatens to cut entire music service budget
7 January 2013, Rhian Morgan
Dozens of pupils and their families have protested against proposals by Newport Council to cut its entire grant of £292,000 to Gwent Music Support Service (GMSS). The protestors, who played instruments and sang in Newport Civic Centre, say the cuts would devastate its service and hit poorest families hardest.
The council is considering the plans as part of its draft budget proposals for 2013-14, a period in which it needs to save 8.4m. It says it 'has to make choices in challenging economic times, and these are becoming increasingly difficult'. GMSS also receives funding from other councils in Gwent, but is run by Newport.
The council says its proposals aim to make the service self-sufficient, while finding ways to offer some financial support to less well-off students.
GMSS student Florence Mayo, 13, of Ponthir, who sings and plays double bass and bass guitar, said, 'If these cuts are made, children whose lives revolve around music might not be able to continue their musical career.'
Her mother, Sarah Flowers, 45, whose other children, Eliza, ten, and Reuben, six, also study with the service, added, 'We will be going from music for all to music for the already privileged.'
Charles Ferris, a Tory councillor, said he believed the cut could lead to fewer students taking up music at degree level. Labour councillor Chris Evans said, 'the image of any council snatching a violin out of a kid’s hand is pretty tough to stomach. However, let’s not jump the gun as it’s still out to consultation.'
More than 2,000 signatures have already been added to a petition to stop the cuts at www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/newport-city-council-stop-the-budget-cuts-for-gwent-music-support-service-2