‘Classical music should make changes’ says poll

A new poll suggests 82% of the British public believe that the classical music industry needs to make changes in order to have a future.


The survey, conducted by YouGov on behalf of Town Hall Symphony Hall, Birmingham asked over 2,000 adults what they thought were barriers to accessing classical music.

Young people were far more likely to say that the traditional formats of classical concerts needed to change, and that the genre needed to be more ethnically diverse and less elitist. In contrast, over 55s called for better music education, with some objecting to the ‘dumbing down’ of classical concerts.

Almost half of those surveyed agreed that more young children need to be inspired to learn a classical instrument, and given the chance to experience performing music. 40% of those surveyed also believed that the ‘stuffy concert hall’ was partly to blame, and thought that one solution could be to perform in more everyday places like shopping malls and parks.

Though these results don’t spell out great news for the current classical music industry, Richard Hawley (head of programming at Town Hall Symphony Hall Birmingham) believes there is a silver lining.

‘Far from being a mainstream nonentity, people do really seem to care about classical music having a future,’ he said. ‘There are changes that need to be made, and we believe now is the time to take risks and be brave.’

The results:

More young children need to be inspired to learn a classical instrument and experience playing music


Concerts need to be performed outside stuffy concert halls and in more everyday places (e.g. parks, shopping malls, clubs)


Music should feature more prominently in the school curriculum


The big concerts always seem to take place in London, and not outside London


The elitist language and traditions that make it appear aloof need to end


Venues need to work harder to get more young people going to a concert


It needs to have greater appeal to a multi-cultural society / ethnic minorities


Music by contemporary composers is often pretentious and tuneless, and not enjoyable to listen to


Orchestras need to stop wearing dinner dress from a bygone age


Orchestras and artists need to be more active on social media


Classical music is too often dumbed down (e.g. Doctor Who Prom)


Don't know


Not applicable – There are no challenges to classical music being relevant or having a future





All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,023 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th-20th July 2017.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).