More concerts, larger audiences, wider outreach and a 5% drop in income – sound familiar?!
This was in a report commissioned by the Association of British Orchestras showing that orchestras in 2016 “delivered more than 4,000 concerts and reached almost 5 million attendees and 900,000 children and young people amidst a 5% drop in total income”.
Orchestras are succeeding in achieving larger audiences and engaging with more young people but it all has a cost which has to be balanced with an 11% drop in funding from local authorities, discounted ticketing, free concerts and fixed fee performances.
Most people entering the arts do not do it for the money. However, the music industry is not an insignificant contributor to the UK economy. A report from UK music tells us that in 2015 (report published in 2016) £4.1 billion was contributed to the UK economy by music and 119,020 employment is sustained by the music industry.
This is of course the entire music industry not just classical music which has always and still continues to need to be supported by alternative funding and donations in order to fulfill its creative potential.
Whilst Arts Council funding is reducing in line with other public subsidy and we shouldn’t be surprised by that, the principles behind the funding, as stated by the Arts Council remain the same: “Art and culture make life better, help to build diverse communities and improve our quality of life. Great art and culture can inspire our education system, boost our economy and give our nation international standing”.
We need to continue to support the arts but, not too far removed from the plight of the National Health Service, we need to find more creative and imaginative ways of doing it. Public funding continues to wane and is not likely to return. The energy now needs to go positively into finding alternative funding solutions or the downward spiral will continue.