A new chapter: moving on…..

One of the many photographs taken by Malcolm during his time at Gloucestershire Music.

One of the many photographs taken by Malcolm during his time at Gloucestershire Music. The team at Gloucestershire Music and the partners in Make Music Gloucestershire wish him well on his retirement, and hope he enjoys having more time for his photography!

We are now nearly eight months into the new funding arrangements for music services in Gloucestershire, and I am just about to retire as Head of Gloucestershire Music and leader of Make Music Gloucestershire, the local music education hub.

We live in exciting and demanding times, with our national and local political leaders trying to deal with the impact of the worst global recession since 1929. Yet the present government agreed to continue to fund music education provision (the work that goes on outside, but often in support of, the work that relates to the music curriculum in schools) from 2012-15, to the tune of £171 million. A cut for most music services, yes – and particularly now this funding needs to cover our services, as well as work with other partners – but not as bad as we had initially feared. So what’s so special about music?

The music education lobby was certainly able to make a powerful case for the central place of music in people’s lives, and cited inspirational  stories from the UK and around the world. The recommendations of Henley’s report on music education in 2011 have for the most part been accepted by the government and are now enshrined in the National Plan for Music Education.  The most challenging of these was the imperative for different organisations to work together towards common and agreed goals for young people’s music making, which include universal access to music education, and signposting opportunities to make music.

We are fortunate that the intrinsic and extrinsic value and benefits of music seem to be tacitly accepted by politicians. Music hubs have a once in a generation opportunity to demonstrate that partnership working can have a major impact on young people’s life chances through music, and through our partnership with Gloucestershire Music Makers, the hub in Gloucestershire is proud to be supporting work with some of the most vulnerable young people in the area as an integral and important part of our strategy.

So what’s needed from music hubs to ensure that the present investment is as effective and sustainable as possible?

We need to be ambitious but realistic about what we can achieve locally: there is not enough resource within the system to achieve everything envisaged in Henley’s report, and whilst we are concentrating on our music hubs the future of the arts within the curriculum is being challenged by proposed changes.

We need to explain and demonstrate the impact of music so successfully that all sorts of stakeholders who have a remit for children and young people are prepared to pay at least part of the cost in future, ensuring that  future support is not unduly dependent on public funding. One of the few certainties at present is that there will not be nearly so much funding available as a result of the next comprehensive spending review!

And finally we need to create a diverse, collaborative and forward-thinking music education community that puts children and young people’s needs and interests at the forefront of our plans and activities. That’s no small challenge and it’s one that I know that the people I’ve had the pleasure of working with in Gloucestershire will be more than capable of meeting.

I wish everyone involved in developing musical hubs in England and my colleagues in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, every success in the future. Let’s make the case for continued funding and support post 2015 so powerful that no matter what the financial context the removal of funding is unthinkable.

Malcolm Pollock
Head of Gloucestershire Music
– leading Make Music Gloucestershire, the county’s music education hub

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Posted on March 27, 2013, in Music Education and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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