Q. I would like to ask Alan Davey some questions posed anonymously by one of our leading orchestra managers on Norman Lebrecht’s blog, Slipped Disc this morning.
The Arts Council promised not to salami slice, though that’s exactly what it did to all the major Symphony orchestras.
1. Where’s the evidence of any real orchestral strategy for the country?
2. Now that the Arts Council have set the grants for the next four years, what’s the point of employing a Music Department? What’s it going to DO?
3. How many more years of monitoring and assessing are there to be without any real change in structure of the orchestral scene which has been fundamentally the same for half a century.
Now stand by for Davey’s reply. Here’s what I posted earlier, whch was a reply to a different question (not that you could tell).
We fund all kinds of art forms and we’re not ashamed of it. We fund everything from symphony orchestras, opera and the National Theatre to small local groups and ensembles, who are the life blood of the arts in this country. They all connect, they are all important, they are all about the integrity and excellence of the art form involved. And it is this ecology of national, local, small and large that we have tried to preserve. London is the home to many of our national arts institutions, whose reach extends to audiences across the whole country, but I agree we need to strike a balance and we have tried to do just that.
And here’s Davey’s double fudge on the orchestras:
It’s important to realise that there is more to our orchestra strategy than the eight symphony orchestras. In respect of them, we have had 8 strong bids from 8 orchestras performing really well at the moment. This hasn’t always been the case. National Council debated this and decided that now was not the time to make major change in the number of orchestras we fund, particularly as they are all working at full capacity and on a very lean business model, that means we get a lot out of the money we put in. I do want to look, over the next four years, at how we realistically fund them to be the best they can be. Change for change’s sake wouldn’t be a good thing to do, as we would be in danger of wrecking a rich inheritance that forms the backbone of musical life in this country.