MORE than 1,300 people have signed a petition calling on Newport council to drop its proposal to axe funding to Gwent Music Support Service.
The council has suggested ending its contribution of £292,000 a year to the service, also known as GMSS, saying it has to concentrate on frontline education.
But one councillor said people at the council should hang their heads in shame, accusing the authority of cultural vandalism.
Newport council is consulting on the proposal – among other measures in the draft budget for 2013/14 – until February 13.
The petition, on change.org, had attracted 1,362 signatures from people from across the UK last night.
David Williams, a Tory councillor for Graig ward, signed the petition and commented: “This is cultural vandalism on the part of the city council.
“They should hang their heads in shame,” he added.
Students and alumni of GMSS have left messages on the change.org website against the cut, which Monmouthshire Council has said could have significant implications for the service.
Erin Morrey, from Birmingham, wrote: “GMSS are a fantastic organisation and one that has enriched the lives of thousands of children.
“They provided me with the platform to play at a national level and in many great concert halls here in the UK and abroad.”
Joshua Jones, of Cwmbran, said the service has taken himself from a boy of eight into a university student pursuing music.
He said: “Surely these cuts can’t be given the go-ahead, causing 1,000 children to perhaps give up their hobby, natural gift and potentially their future?”
Rhys Ward, of Newport, added: “This could see one of the finest youth music services in the UK decline and consequently affect the standard of music-making nationwide.”
To see the petition visit http://chn.ge/UWKosC
For more information on Newport council’s consultation go to www.newport.gov.uk/budget
ARGUS COMMENT: Tune in and see sense
NEWPORT CITY Council may find that it has to rethink its proposal to axe funding from the wellrespected Gwent Music Support Service.
We warned from the outset that to withdraw funding from GMSS would be an unpopular suggestion.
And judging by the number of people already signing up to a petition against the plan, it looks as though we will be proved right.
However, this is not about whether our gut feeling is right, but is about funding a music tuition service which has built up a national reputation for excellence.
The city council’s proposal to withdraw all of its £292,000 share of funding for the service, which also receives money from Torfaen and Monmouthshire county councils, has resulted in a backlash from people right across the country.
Former students who have gone on to pursue successful musical careers, music critics and leaders in the field have all spoken out and are pleading with Newport City Council to think again.
Opposition councillors are also letting it be known that this is not a funding cut they feel they could support.
We urge the council to listen and to rethink this plan.
Yes, there are budgetary pressures and money needs to be saved, but we think the suggestion that all of Gwent Music Support Service’s funding is cut in one move is a step too far.