Musical grant heralded ‘exciting new chapter’

County Hall, Northallerton. Photo: LDRS.

An Arts Council England grant of £1.2m to increase musical opportunities for children from all backgrounds has been heralded as “an exciting new chapter”, following concerns that disadvantaged students could miss out on a music education.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive unanimously approved the acceptance of £947,000 funding to subsidise partial or full discounts in music lessons and other musical experiences for children as well as £311,000 to buy new musical instruments after being announced as a winning bidder to provide music education across York and North Yorkshire.

The grant, which is for one year only, follows the county’s music service, which provides instrumental and vocal tuition to pupils in local authority schools throughout North Yorkshire turning around a £680,000 loss in funding to become viable again in 2019.

However, last month, music centres across the county reported struggling to fund free lessons for children eligible for free school meals due to a rise in the volume of those pupils through the cost of living crisis.

At the time, Emily Jones, manager at the Harrogate Music Centre, said: “There are so many benefits that music brings these students, from social to cognitive and so much more.

“The thought of not being able to provide that is quite upsetting.”

An Arts Council England spokeswoman said North Yorkshire Council had been selected for the grant as it believed it “would best deliver the ambition and aims for music hubs as outlined in the National Plan for Music Education, the power of music to change lives”.

An officer’s report to the executive stated with North Yorkshire being responsible for developing music education in York as well as the county, and as the lead organisation for the combined area, would provide opportunities for increasing income for the service.

It stated: “We will be able to increase our traded offer to York schools, particularly on our whole class instrumental programmes. This will benefit the service financially.”

Councillor Annabel Wilkinson, the authority’s executive member for schools, said the funding would generate a greater range of opportunities for children and an expansion of the council’s music service’s partnerships with other organisations.

She said the funding would help in the training of school staff to teach music, discounted musical instrument lessons and increasing access to “large-scale and high-quality music experiences”.

Coun Wilkinson said: “This is an exciting new chapter in the development of music provision across the region.”

Councillor Gareth Dadd, the authority’s deputy leader and finance boss, described the grant as “absolutely fantastic news”.

He added: “I remember years ago when the service was looking to be rocky to say the least. It seems to be floating financially now as a result of this grant and other sources, without the need for core council funding.”

1 Comment

  1. Unless it sings or plays an instrument it’s likely to be a music grant rather than a musical grant!

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