The UK government is to invest a further £300m into England’s music hubs.
Schools minister Nick Gibb announced yesterday (17 November) that the sizable sum will be put towards the network of 123 hubs over the next four years, in a drive to get more young people taking part in music and the arts.
As well as this, the government has also given details of plans to provide £500,000 of funds per year until 2018 to In Harmony, the scheme set up to give children in poor areas the opportunity to learn an instrument in an orchestra. Plus, £600,000 a year will be made available for smaller music programmes across the country until 2020.
The news regarding the funding for the music hubs has been welcomed by, among others, the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM). ‘The government’s announcement is good news for music education, children and young people across the whole of England,’ says the ISM’s chief executive Deborah Annetts. ‘A continuation of funding, secured for the next four years, will help enable music education hubs to plan their future and continue their life-changing work. We must ensure that any proposals for extra responsibilities for music education hubs are matched by additional funding and do not lead to a watering down of musical opportunities.’
Established in 2012 as part of the government’s national plan for music education, the music hubs are a national network of organisations – made up of local authorities, schools, voluntary groups and others – whose aim is to provide opportunities for young people to learn and participate in music. As reported in the October 2015 issue of BBC Music Magazine, they have proved successful in some areas, less so in others – indeed, a report published by the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER) in 2014 revealed that, while the hubs had brought new energy to organising musical activities for young people, ‘the existing wide variation in the quality of music education in schools showed no sign of improvement.’