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Music subsidy removed from council’s schools

31 Jan 2024 3 minute read
Photo by Pexels from Pixabay

Twm Owen Local Democracy Reporter

Children receiving music lessons in schools are those whose parents can already afford to pay, according to a councillor responsible for cutting funding. 

Monmouthshire County Council intends withdrawing the remaining £39,000 subsidy it provides to the Gwent Music Service from April as part of the £8.4 million in cuts and savings it must make in the new financial year. 

In 2022/23 the council provided the service with £100,000 which it planned to cut entirely last year before agreeing the £39,000 sum as one of a number of last minute concessions the then-minority Labour administration made to get its budget for the current year passed last March.

Gwent Music Service

The council, which has received a below inflation 2.3 per cent increase in its funding this year, which is a real terms cut, is the only remaining unitary authority providing a subsidy to the Gwent Music Service that has taught children across the area to sing and play instruments for more than 50 years. 

Councillor Ben Callard, the Labour cabinet member for finance, said, in response to comments from councillors on the performance scrutiny committee, he recognised the importance of music and that he had benefitted from the service as a schoolboy. 

He said of the withdrawal of the council funding: “This doesn’t mean there’s no opportunity for children to learn music but their parents will obviously have to pay. It’s very unfortunate you do need a very small group size to provide good education (in music). 

“It does feel it is an inequality in the system and, to put it bluntly, most kids who have music lessons can do so because their parents can afford it, I’m sure there would be more if their parents could too.” 

Will McLean, the council’s chief officer for children and young people, said the £39,000 has allowed Gwent Music to continue to provide class-based lessons for all pupils. 

Individual lessons, which parents have to pay for, will continue as they aren’t dependent on that council funding but it will provide a £9,000 hardship fund to support lessons for hard-up youngsters.

“Under pressure” 

Mr McLean said schools make the council aware of pupils they believe could benefit from the support of the fund. 

He also said the council passes on some £100,000 a year from the Welsh Government’s music service to Gwent Music and it eligible for other grants. 

He said schools can also chose to use their own budgets to pay Gwent Music to provide lessons but he recognised school budgets are “under pressure” with the council expecting them to find £835,000 in savings in the coming financial year. 

He also said he could hold talks with Gwent Music about how the loss of funding from the other councils in the area it had impacted it, in response to concerns from councillors. 

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5 months ago

More classist nonsense from Cymru’s unwanted colony of little Englanders.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
5 months ago

There must be hundreds of musicians waiting in the wings of the voluntary sector to ‘help out to sing out’ like the Urdd etc…music is the magma that forces its way through the hard rock of Cymru…

My generation had to fight to be heard, sorry what did you say? 500 hundred watts in a tiny room has its drawbacks…

Valerie Matthews
Valerie Matthews
5 months ago

So, basically you are saying the children who are most in need of help will not get it? Is our dozy Government aware that some of our most famous/ outstanding Artistes came from a poor or working class background! Where is the logic in this decision??

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