Star date: 5th March 2012  


How obvious can this get? Salford's renowned Music Service, MAPAS, is to get slashed by £300,000 until 2014; while next month Salford Council writes out a cheque for £3million in sponsorship to the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra…

Salford parents, kids and trade unions are sounding the cavalry charge before the Council's consultation ends on March 16th.

Break out the violins for full story here…

Cue the sound of sad violins wailing in the background…

The ConDem Government love music education so much they brought out a paper on it late last year called `The Importance of Music: A National Plan for Music Education'.

In the paper's intro, Michael Gove, Tory Minister for Education, and Ed Vaizey, LibDem Minister for Culture et al, gush about the, er, `importance of music'

"Most children will have their first experience of music at school" they squeal "It is important that music education of high quality is available to as many of them as possible: it must not become the preserve of those children whose families can afford to pay for music tuition. While music touches the lives of all young people, the disadvantaged can benefit most.

"Our vision is to enable children from all backgrounds and every part of
England to have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument; to make
music with others; to learn to sing; and to have the opportunity to progress
to the next level of excellence…"

Wonderful, is it not? So what do they do? Slash music education funding to Salford, of course; down from to £397,000 in 2012-13, to £318,000 in 2013-14, to £241,000 in 2014-15.

And what does Salford Council do? Pass on the cuts to the music service, of course, reducing subsidy for music educational by £300,000 up to 2013-14, and who knows how much after then…

In similar speak to the ConDem Government, Salford Council states… "We are very proud of the Music and Performing Arts Service [MAPAS] and it is with regret that, in this time of great financial pressure, we believe we have to redesign the service to ensure that there is a sustainable future for the service and costs of tuition are kept to a minimum for schools and parents…"

And while Salford Council is consulting on three rubbish Options for the future of MAPASwhich include slashing teachers' wages and hiving off the service to Salford Community Leisure - it's preparing to write out a cheque next month to the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra for £3million in sponsorship…

…All of which has gone down like a Les Dawson piano solo amongst parents and kids who use the music service, and with trade unions which represent the teachers…

"The problem is Salford Council withdrawing funding for the children of Salford to play and learn musical instruments, while they're willing to give money hand over fist to the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra" says Heather Rawlinson, whose son, Ben, attends Salford Youth Brass rehearsals.

"I just get mad that we're paying all our council tax and it's our children who are suffering" she adds "The Council is bragging about Media City… `We've got this and we've got that, and isn't it wonderful'…and yet our children can't have any benefits. There are three options but none of them are suitable and the present system is better. Really all they need to do is cut some funding that they're giving to Media City and the BBC, and just re-direct it back into Salford."

Heather's thoughts are echoed by Julie Webster, whose son, Oliver, plays the baritone. For Julie the music lessons are more than merely learning to play an instrument…

"Oliver's been coming for almost a year and absolutely loves it" she says "When he first came to lessons he saw everyone sat there and it was so daunting that he wanted to go away. But he came back the week after and he loved it. Over the time he's been here, he's turned from very shy and quiet to a lot more outgoing and confident. He's a completely different child and I believe it's this. He looks forward to it. He wants to come, and gets a buzz from performing."

At the moment parents pay £50 at school plus £50 for out-of-school lessons for the Salford music service. It's just about affordable but Julie and others are worried that, following the cuts, the prices will go up.

"I don't like the idea of paying more for music lessons, we pay enough as it is" she explains "People aren't going to come if it's more expensive, or the tutors will find other means of employment because the Council won't pay them what they want paying. But these children are our future so they should think about where they're investing our money. It's very generous of them to give all that money to the BBC but these kids are the raw new talent."

Julie describes how MAPAS has brought in DJ decks to teach scratching, and how the young people have created their own music on the Cloud. Meanwhile, Peter Jones, who brings his grand-daughter and grand-son twice a week to rehearsals, talks of the prestigious concerts the bands play at The Lowry and elsewhere.

Indeed the MAPAS Youth Orchestra is due to perform at the Mayor's Charity Concert on March 22nd, and with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra at MediaCityUK on March 19th. The latter concert should be fun. What is it - the handing over the £3million cheque ceremony?

"I think the money should be directed inwardly rather than out; it should be kept for the benefit of Salford" says Peter "The BBC have a licence fee and should support themselves. I don't think they should be subsidised by us at the expense of kids.

"To get the pleasure they get from this sort of thing taken away from them, I think, is totally wrong" he adds "I personally don't think any of the options are right and can't see the reason why they have to cut children's services at all. I think it's part of their education. There's nothing more important than education, it's the building block for their future lives, whether it's music or anything else…"

None of the three Options that Salford Council is consulting on until March 16th seem to be acceptable to anyone. The first two Options are about slashing tutors' wages by re-classifying them as either `unqualified' or `self employed', while the third (Council-preferred) Option is to hive MAPAS off to Salford Community Leisure by September.

Salford Community Leisure could then do whatever it wanted with MAPAS - cut staff, slash wages, increase fees – under the cloak of being separate from Salford City Council.

"The Options are a nightmare" says Joe Langley of teachers union, NASUWT "We're calling on the Council to look at a fourth Option, to take stock, be realistic and manage the cuts in a civilised way. MAPAS is a very long running service that's been great for helping disadvantaged kids, and it's galling that the Council is paying £millions to the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra while slashing the service.

"The BBC might be sexier than a schools music service but this has an effective impact on the citizens of Salford, working with kids in classes and on an individual basis" he adds "It's a great shame but part of the barbaric society we're moving towards…"

It's a society that bemuses eight year old Ben Rawlinson who might well be one of Salford's top musicians of the future…

"I've been coming to band rehearsals for about four months and really enjoy it" he says "One day I'd like to be a professional musician and maybe play with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. I'd feel really upset if they cut the money…"

The ConDem Government's paper, The Importance of Music: A National Plan for Music Education, talks about the creation of music hubs where "More children will experience a combination of classroom teaching, instrumental and vocal tuition, opportunities to play in ensembles and the chance to learn from professional musicians…".

Hypocrisy doesn't come any clearer…

For further details of the MAPAS Consultation and to forward comments to Salford City Council – click here.

* To show what a great music service Salford has got, the Friends of MAPAS invited loads of politicians to see a rehearsal last week. Only one councillor, John Warmisham, and the Salford MP, Hazel Blears, even acknowledged the invitation (although they couldn't go, of course), which shows just how proud they all are of Salford's music service...


at 5:52:15 AM on Thursday, March 08, 2012
Here are some headlines from the Salford Advertiser: Turf wars: Criminal gangs fighting for territory are behind spate of Salford shootings Nurse shopped by husband over hospital equipment stolen from Tameside and Bury stashed in loft at Salford home Benefits cheat mum from Pendleton invented SIX children to rake in £14,000 Burger-rage mum attacked women at drive-through McDonald's queue in Salford Does anybody else see a pattern emerging? Lots of sensational, crime headlines, but nothing about this travesty which will effect people of Salford for generations to come. This is partly the reason these things occur with barely anybody even knowing about them. The local press, Salford Star excluded, are in cahoots with the BBC and big business interests. MEN Media or Trinity Mirror Group will never publish stuff like this because their paymasters would have a fit. In the comments here, we have a selection of the informed voices - teachers and students who know of what they speak - who will never be heard by the Evening News or the Salford Advertiser. Where is John Merry now? Where is Ian Stewart? Is this the wrong kind of publicity - do they not want to add anything?
Ann Gajda wrote
at 4:10:23 PM on Wednesday, March 07, 2012
I worked as a music teacher in Salford for many years and I am so proud of all we have achieved. Jack Fryer started Mapas as is is now known and it has worked for over forty years with the children of Salford giving them a wonderful chance of accessing a musical education and experience that can not be bettered. Some have achieved great musical heights, such as Jo Duddell, composer and reader in music at Salford University; he has had his compositions played at the Proms in London and as a former pupil of mine at Wentworth high school he came through the Mapas experience playing with the Jim Lowe Swing band and the youthrchestra orchestra. Simon Niblock a clarinetist from Kersal high is also a contemporary composer working on music for TV and he came through Salford Music service. Hundreds of children passed through my hands in Salford and were so enthused by Music both in school with all the enthusistic instrumental teachers expertise and al the extra curricular music. They had so much fun and became confident younsters. Do not take away such a wonderful service and return music to an elitist persuit.
Bernadette wrote
at 12:24:56 AM on Wednesday, March 07, 2012
I just don't believe the council have opted to give the BBC Phil more money. At the moment they are running 2 projects with MAPAS they are badly organised and the dates have changed. I suppose this is more than they have done in the last 4 years so we should be grateful. I wrote to Hazel Blears and Salford Council before we were aware of the MAPAS cuts complaining about the lack of input from the BBC Phil and the money the council handed to Music Industry Learning. I asked City of Salford to provide info on what the Phil had done. They sent me a document which basically detailed the concerts they had played in the City and about Proms in the Park. I think that says it all baout their lack of interest in the young people of this City. To make things worse advanced players from Salford no loger get opportunities to work with the Halle. We've had no access to funding from Future Talent through the Future Stars project, which has been in existance in neighbouring authorities for several years because Salford fund the Phil. The players in the Phil could have done so much more for the young people of Salford particularly those who want music as a career. All they get a re re-cycled ill thought out projects because the Education Director and the players can't be bothered. Without MAPAS my daughter wouldn't be where she is today. They have supported her when her school didn't the staff need parents to stand behind them now. Salford Council think they can put music under Leisure without really having any understanding of a complex area that needs specialist input. They are completely deluded.
Salford Star wrote
at 3:53:27 AM on Tuesday, March 06, 2012
See Emily's comments below...Sorry, Emily the £3million handing over the cheque ceremony was supposed to be a joke. Although we agree that it is a joke the way MAPAS is being cut while the BBC Phil cashes in!
Emily wrote
at 3:50:10 AM on Tuesday, March 06, 2012
I have been attending MAPAS for 7 years now, and they have helped me develop as a musician. My high school was not interested in performing arts, so MAPAS supported me through my 5 years there and my GCSE Music, as the saxophone ensemble agreed to record my composition. The BBC Phil have been given money for years to help music in Salford, and what have they done? They set up the Salford Family Orchestra, which is beneficial to families learning, but what about the advanced players at MAPAS? I am doing the project they are co-ordinating at the moment, and I find it unacceptable that not all of the parts have been given to us, so 2 weeks before the concert, there are no 2nd Oboe or 2nd Flute parts. Also, the fact that this is the concert where the council hand over the cheque to the BBC Phil, whilst the people from MAPAS are there is, in my opinion, completely inconsiderate!
mary ferrer wrote
at 11:21:42 PM on Monday, March 05, 2012
They up at the civic have got to get their priorities right, you don't think our kids can come before the bloody BBC, after all we were sold all these jobs on the back of the 20 million WE are giving the BBC band and how many did we get?? 20ish. Just worked it out these jobs have cost us so far, one million pound per job if 20 SALFORD people got a job.I know I keep saying this but someone needs to look at the contract or what ever paperwork regarding OUR commitment to this money, because please don't think when WE have paid the 20 million that is the end of it, because it is not, the Labour council have entered into on going payments till forever. This Labour council needs start investing in our future and our childrens, not making the fat cats fatter and we are given the crumbs,if there are any left.
Ian - OB - Obrien wrote
at 1:01:20 PM on Monday, March 05, 2012
Pop quiz. What have the following names got in common: Elkie Brookes, Ewan McColl, Graham Nash, John Cooper Clarke, James Fearnley, Mark E Smith, Peter Hook, Mike Walker, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, the Ting Tings and Russel Watson? Answer: They are all world famous musicians which Salford Councils website proudly lists as, well, being from Salford. It supposedly shows the world how proud Salford is of it's famous sons and daughters, some of whom have been so important that that they have changed the face of modern music as we know it. The website actually lists John Cooper Clarke as having invented 'Punk Poetry' My god!! The guy actually invented and entire genre. His song Chicken Town was the track which played out the final episode of the multi-award winning drama, The Sopranos. Even in far off America, Hollywood directors and super stars are more interested in, and supportive of, Salfords musical creativity than it's own civil servants. How very sad!! So, Mr Merry - please, don't ever, ever, ever again try to grab cheap publicity by using the names Peter Hook, Russel Watson, or any of the others as being indicative of the creativity inherent in the people of Salford. In fact, perhaps we should start a campaign to contact every one of these famous people, those still with us, wherever in the world they may be, and ask them what they think of this. I am sure Peter Hook would have a few choice words.
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