Have your say on plans to cut East Sussex Music Service

Alan Thomas and many other musicians at Eastbourne Bandstand protesting about the cuts to East Sussex Music Service (Photo by Jon Rigby)
Alan Thomas and many other musicians at Eastbourne Bandstand protesting about the cuts to East Sussex Music Service (Photo by Jon Rigby)

A public consultation on proposals to reduce the role of the county’s music service has been launched.

East Sussex County Council says the service cannot continue to fund individual and small group instrumental lessons without affecting other statutory children’s services.

An Arts Council grant and income from lessons does not cover the cost of instrumental teaching in East Sussex Music, and despite major restructuring the service still needs to save £180,000 to balance its books, the council says.

Cllr Bob Standley, the county council’s lead member for education and ISEND, said: “We recognise the value of the music service in East Sussex, but cannot afford to provide the music service in its current format.

“We want to do everything we can to ensure pupils continue to have the opportunity to learn to play an instrument, and this consultation will give people the opportunity to share their views, ideas and any information that will help us achieve this.”

He added: “Reducing the role of the music service is not a decision we want to take, but significant cuts in Government funding mean we have to make some incredibly difficult decisions to ensure we are protecting the most vulnerable people in our county and delivering services we have a statutory duty to provide.”

While the proposal would see the closure of the instrumental teaching part of the service, East Sussex Music would continue to provide whole-class instrumental teaching in schools, the county’s four area music centres – which offer children the chance to play in ensembles – and the sixth form music education provision at the Academy of Music.

Should the proposals go ahead, lessons would be provided through the private market or through other organisations, which are already used by many children in East Sussex to access instrumental lessons.

East Sussex Music would continue to offer financial support towards the cost of lessons for low income families and would look at ways to increase opportunities for children with special educational needs and disabilities, and other challenging circumstances, to benefit from music-making.

The consultation runs until Friday, July 27, 2018.

To take part, visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk/haveyoursay, email equalityandparticipation@eastsussex.gov.uk, or call 01273 335250.