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Response to proposed cuts to arts education funding

From Richard Mantle, General Director

We are deeply concerned to learn of the Government’s intention to impose a 50 percent funding cut on the provision of arts training at Higher Education level.

This country has long been a world-leading beacon of culture, with music alone worth £5.8 billion to the UK economy in 2019. The continuing success of our creative industries depends on a good arts education at all levels being freely accessible to everyone. Imposing cuts in this way will weaken an already challenged talent pipeline, with the financial viability of much of the training provision for aspiring musicians and others looking to pursue a career in the arts being severely impacted.

We should also remember that performing arts students make a valuable contribution to the cultural lives of universities through choirs, orchestras and drama societies – how much poorer would it be for all undergraduates if music and drama students no longer shared a space with the engineers, medics and physicists of the future?

Opera North Youth Company take part in Aesop's Tales workshop © Amy Charles

We believe furthermore that such a step will have a detrimental effect on the opportunities available to those from diverse backgrounds. Through our In Harmony Opera North musical residency in schools in inner-city Leeds, we have seen at first hand the incredible impact that the provision of quality music education can have on social mobility and achievement across the academic spectrum.

New Bewerley Community Primary School sits in one of the most economically challenged areas of the UK but, by embedding music and the arts at the heart of its curriculum, it has seen a marked uplift in both the self-belief of its pupils and their results in all areas, recently receiving a Platinum Artsmark Award in recognition of its achievements. For many of these pupils, becoming culturally enfranchised has been genuinely life-changing. It is our belief that cutting funding in the way proposed may well result in children such as these being unable to pursue their arts education at a higher level leading to a catastrophic loss of talent and potential.

We urge others to join us in responding to the Government’s consultation by Thursday 6 May.

Respond now


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