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Cardiff and Newport music services face savage cuts

5 February 2013, Rhian Morgan

Cardiff City Council is proposing to end its subsidy of music lessons in schools by cutting its £151,000 grant to the Cardiff County and Vale of Glamorgan Music Service. The move is part of plans to save £22m in the next financial year.

Councillor Russell Goodway, cabinet member for finance, said the Labour administration had to make 'difficult decisions' as a consequence of the UK government’s austerity measures. The move will mean the music service increasing its music tuition fees by 11% to make up the shortfall.

Emma Coulthard, a music development officer with the music service, says it has become a challenge for music services to deliver what is being asked of them on dwindling funding. 'In Wales, where there was no Wider Opps money, no In Harmony and no Youth Music, Cardiff’s music service has had to be particularly creative and forge strong alliances with schools and others,' she said.

Meanwhile, neighbouring Gwent is facing similar cutbacks, with Newport City Council proposing to withdraw its funding for Gwent Music Support Service. Many hundreds of people have signed petitions against the plans. Protestors in both areas say that it is children from the poorest families, many of whom currently receive free lessons, who are most likely to suffer.

Newport-based Emma Archer, a student at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, said she found the situation 'abhorrent'. 'Times are very hard for councils,' she said. 'However, there is a complete dearth of creative thinking at the moment. If we cut all creative outlets for the next generation and offer them little prospect of easy access to further education and very little certainty of a job at the other end, just what kind of society does the current government expect will be created?'

The two petitions can be found here:

www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/newport-city-council-stop-the-budget-cuts-for-gwent-music-support-service-2

www.change.org/petitions/cardiff-county-council-stop-them-making-100-cuts-to-their-county-music-service?

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