A total of £300 million is being spent by the Government on music education to allow children to learn to play musical instruments, sing in choirs and play in bands over the next four years.
Delivered through a national network of 121 hubs, the programs were initially launched in 2012, although future funding for the endeavor has become uncertain. While the Musicians’ Union said the money would offer some breathing room to music teachers who held insecure jobs, and composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber called it a “welcome first step towards improving funding for music and the arts,” the NASUWT teacher’s union referred to it as “sticking plaster to cover a gaping wound.”
“An education in music and the arts builds self-esteem, improves behaviour and social skills, and increases broader academic achievement – these are opportunities that should be available to everyone, not just the privileged few,” said Lloyd-Webber.
Each hub works directly with schools, local authorities and community organizations in an effort to increase the number of children who participate in music and art programs. Over the last four years, the Government has put £271m toward these programs, making this latest amount an increase that will allow the hubs to reach even more students across the country.
“Music and the arts can transform lives and introduce young people to a huge range of opportunities – whether that is learning to play a musical instrument, understanding local heritage or attending a world-famous dance school,” said Mr Gibb.
Gibb went on to say that the main goal of the program was to ensure that everyone has the same opportunity to participate, also stating “not just the privileged few.” He noted that the intention of the funding was to allow hundreds of thousands of children between the ages of 5 and 18 from all backgrounds to become involved in music and the arts.
Additional announcements concerning arts education funding until 2018 were made by the ministers, such as £29m each year that will be put toward the costs associated with allowing artists to attend world class arts institutions like the Royal Ballet School who would otherwise be unable to participate. Another £13.5m will be offered each year for fees and living costs for those students between the ages of 16 and 23 who are enrolled in other high quality dance and drama schools.
£4.1m will be put each year toward cultural education programs such as dance, film, art and design, heritage, and museums. In addition, £500,000 per year will go toward the In Harmony orchestral training program located in disadvantaged areas, reports Judith Burns for the BBC.
Furthermore, £600,000 will be made available each year for smaller music programs throughout the country until the year 2020.
“A continuation of funding, secured for the next four years, will help enable music education hubs to plan their future and continue their life-changing work. We must ensure that any proposals for extra responsibilities for music education hubs are matched by additional funding and do not lead to a watering down of musical opportunities,” said the Incorporated Society of Musician’s chief executive Deborah Annetts.
However, while the hubs have been successful in increasing the enthusiasm of young people toward participation in music and the arts, a 2014 report published by the National Foundation for Education Research suggested that the quality of music education within schools has yet to improve.
According to the Musicians’ Union, the initial start of the hubs in 2012 came at the same time as cuts were being made within local authority music services. These cuts caused music teachers across the country to fall victim to job losses and pay cuts. The group argues that the new funding does not address the cuts made, arguing that music and arts programs within schools are often still ignored.