Jane East joins the fight to save Kirklees Music School after meeting with Principle Thom Meredith
Jane East in conversation with Thom Meredith.
On Tuesday (13th January) Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate, Jane East, met with Thom Meredith, Principal of Kirklees Music School, to hear about its work and the struggle it is facing with potential cuts as Kirklees Council’s budget is cut by Central Government.
Mr Meredith and Ms East spoke at length about the work that the Music School does to support whole-class music experiences for over 7,500 pupils a week and to provide lessons to 2,800 children and young people, including 40 who are ‘looked after children’ and approximately 300 who receive discounted lessons through the Kirklees Priority Passport scheme.
The Music School faces an uncertain future as the next round of central government funding cuts hits Kirklees. Of a £1.8m annual turnover a year, £299,000 comes from a council grant. This supports the work of the seven music centres as well as looked after children receiving free music lessons and children from poorer backgrounds receiving subsidised tuition.
Ms East commented during the meeting, “The work of Kirklees Music School is outstanding for the amount of money it receives and I commend the dedication of the staff to bring music to people from all backgrounds across the region. These cuts whilst not the fault of Kirklees Council will have a detrimental effect on many young people’s lives. We need to explore all options to try and secure funding to save this service for future generations to enjoy. This is another issue of fairness. We don’t want music teaching to become the domain of the affluent. We want talented children from ordinary families to have the chance to flourish.”
Mr Meredith said, “We have worked hard over many years to ensure that instrumental and vocal tuition is able to be accessed by all young people who want to. Unfortunately, the result of a further reduction in the Kirklees Council grant would mean that opportunities are denied to some of those families who deserve them most. With the financial support for instrumental and vocal tuition having been cut nationally over recent years, we have made as many ‘efficiency savings’ as we can, but organisations can only cut so far before it starts to have a detrimental effect on the scope of the services offered. While I understand that councils across the country are facing similar budget problems, without the funding from Kirklees Council, we will have to potentially close some of the music centres and the free lessons for those children in care will be hit along with a number of other grants we offer to families and young people.
One thing that individuals and businesses could do to help is by making donations to our ‘Gift of Music’ scheme. This has been set up in order to provide free lessons for a number of young people who show musical aptitude and commitment, but whose families are not in a financial position to be able to afford tuition”