The BBC's new classical music strategy results in redundancies
Today the BBC have announced a new classical music strategy which will have a devastating impact on their ensembles and musicians.
The BBC has said at the heart of its plan it commits to:
- Create agile ensembles that can work flexibly and creatively, working with more musicians and broadcasting from more venues – up to 50 – in different parts of the country
- Reinforcing the distinctiveness of the BBC’s five unique orchestras, artistically, educationally and geographically serving their own audiences whilst fulfilling their collective role in providing the widest range of content across Radio 3 and BBC platforms.
- Doubling funding for music education and launching new training initiatives, providing more opportunities for people to engage with classical music, building audiences and creating extraordinary experiences.
- Creating a single digital home for our orchestras, giving audiences access to the full range of our high-quality orchestral content, including new and archive performances, educational content and concert listings.
- Investing more widely in the future of choral singing across the UK, working with a wide range of choral groups alongside launching a major choral development programme for new talent.
However, the new strategy involves reducing salaried orchestral posts across the BBC English Orchestras by around 20% through voluntary redundancy and closing the BBC Singers (a loss of 20 posts).
Independent Society of Musicians Chief Executive Deborah Annetts said ‘Today’s announcement to disband BBC Singers and severely cut the number of salaried positions in the BBC Orchestras will be devastating for the BBC, musicians, and classical music in this country.
It is difficult to see how this strategy is well thought out. Taking away jobs from singers and orchestral musicians is deeply destructive in these already difficult times when much of the music sector and those working in it are struggling for survival. Let us not forget that this announcement follows Arts Council England’s funding decisions from November 2022 which have also harmed many music organisations.
All these decisions fly in the face of the Government’s commitment to put the creative industries at the heart of economic growth in this country. We call urgently for the BBC to consult with the ISM on not only these cuts but also its plans around a music education offer.'