Students stage musical protest at Newport council cuts

CONCERT CAMPAIGN: Gwent music students played outside Newport Civic Centre in protest at proposed cuts to Gwent Music Support Service

PROTEST: Bassoon player Matthew Petrie

CAMPAIGN: Ben Teague, above, secretary of the students committee of Gwent Music Support Service at the protest outside Newport Civic Centre

First published in News

GWENT music students, parents and alumni gathered for a tuneful protest against a proposal by a council to axe funding to the region’s music service.

As part of Newport council’s draft budget proposals for 2013/14 the authority is looking at axing its contribution of £292,000 to Gwent Music Support Service (GMSS).

About 80 people gathered for a mini-concert in support of the service and to protest against the cutbacks.

One campaigner said they didn’t think GMSS, which also receives funding from Torfaen and Monmouthshire, would cope without the cash from Newport council.

Protesters sung and played an arrangement created especially for the event, featuring hymns such as Cwm Rhondda and Abide with Me.

They were conducted by Ben Teague, secretary of the anti-GMSS cuts committee, who organised a petition that has attracted more than 2,000 signatures.

GMSS student Florence Mayo, 13, of Ponthir and who plays double bass, bass guitar and sings, said: “It’s a great community. If it’s cut these children whose lives revolve around music might not be able to continue their musical career.”

Her mother, Sarah Flowers, 45, whose other children, Eliza Mayo, ten, and Reuben Mayo, six, also study with the service, added: “We will be going from music for all to music for the already privileged.”

Matthew Petrie, 20, of Monmouth, who is in his second year of studies at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, said he has been with the service since he was eight years old.

He said the service would be crushed by the cut: “Lots of people say you are putting money down the drain, but the creative arts industry is one of the top income earners of the UK.”

Committee chairman and trombonist Lloyd Pearce, 19, and also a student at the Royal Welsh College in Cardiff, said: “If the funding is cut it will be a massive blow.”

A handful of opposition councillors from Newport council also attended the protest, as did Labour council member Chris Evans.

Charles Ferris, a Tory councillor from Allt-yr-yn ward, said the cut could lead to fewer students taking up music at degree level.

Mr Evans said: “The image of any council snatching a violin out of a kid’s hand is pretty tough to stomach.

“However, let’s not jump the gun, it’s still out to consultation and I’m sure our leaders will make the right considered choice.”

Aconsultation into the draft budget proposals continues until next month. For more information visit www.newport.gov.uk/budget

Self-sufficiency is the goal

NEWPORT council’s priority is to ensure all children receive a first-class education, a spokeswoman said.

In a statement she said it has to make choices in challenging economic times, and these are becoming increasingly difficult.

The proposal to axe funding is aimed at the service becoming self-sufficient, while finding ways to offer some financial support to less well-off students.

This could include the creation of a local fund supported by the council, businesses and parents, to ensure children who need help to pursue their interest can be assisted.

“While the council recognises that GMSS does some excellent work, the priority has to be ensuring all Newport children receive a first-class education and that there is a commitment that school funding for 2013/14 meets the Welsh Government funding target,”she said.

This comes as the number of primary school pupils in the city is set to rise by more than 300, costing an extra £500,000 over the next five years, while services previously funded by grants will now have to be met from the central education budget.

Although the £1.39 million cash for post-16 special needs pupils is being transferred to the budget, this will leave a shortfall of £500,000 which the council will need to meet, the spokeswoman added.

ARGUS COMMENT: Manners are lacking

PROTESTS continue to grow against Newport city council’s proposal to axe funding for the highly regarded Gwent Music Support Service.

The council is considering ending its annual £292,000 contribution to GMSS as it seeks to find savings of £8.4 million in its 2013/14 budget.

GMSS also receives funding from other Gwent councils but is run by Newport.

The council wants GMSS – which provides music tuition to pupils across Gwent – to become self-funding.

But critics say this would mean charging youngsters for lessons and would discriminate against youngsters from poorer families.

There are no easy decisions as public-sector cuts begin to bite hard, though we would still suggest that a cut in funding rather than an end to it might be more palatable.

We are concerned, however, about an apparent lack of public engagement from the council on key issues. There was no consultation on the free-parking axe and there was no official recognition of yesterday’s protest concert at the Civic Centre by more than 80 GMSS students and alumni. Surely a cabinet member could have acknowledged their presence?

The proposal to end funding is meant to be part of a public consultation.

Talking to people like the youngsters yesterday should be part of that process.

Effectively ignoring their presence is bad manners.

Comments (13)

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10:37am Thu 3 Jan 13

pinpong says...

Booby Bright and labour should be ashamed
Booby Bright and labour should be ashamed pinpong
  • Score: 0

11:18am Thu 3 Jan 13

areyour4real says...

Good to see people taking an interest and trying to make a difference.

As Chris Evans says “still out to consultation and I’m sure our leaders will make the right considered choice.”

So if you have an opinion on this issue make it heard!

I only hope pontiff Bob Bright seen the light.
Good to see people taking an interest and trying to make a difference. As Chris Evans says “still out to consultation and I’m sure our leaders will make the right considered choice.” So if you have an opinion on this issue make it heard! I only hope pontiff Bob Bright seen the light. areyour4real
  • Score: 0

12:35pm Thu 3 Jan 13

Bassoonist1 says...

If you would like to sign the petition, now with over 2,180 signatures, visit this address: http://goo.gl/Lbqzl
If you would like to sign the petition, now with over 2,180 signatures, visit this address: http://goo.gl/Lbqzl Bassoonist1
  • Score: 0

1:05pm Thu 3 Jan 13

areyour4real says...

Nice to see the SWA making a bit of cash out of this issue by putting an advert before the video (of the concert) that they have put up on the main news page. Very public spirited.
Nice to see the SWA making a bit of cash out of this issue by putting an advert before the video (of the concert) that they have put up on the main news page. Very public spirited. areyour4real
  • Score: 0

3:26pm Thu 3 Jan 13

Independentvoter says...

I would rather the £280,000 grant go to Terminally ill and Disabled people to get some care in their home. Not cutback The Direct Payment Scheme !
I would rather the £280,000 grant go to Terminally ill and Disabled people to get some care in their home. Not cutback The Direct Payment Scheme ! Independentvoter
  • Score: 0

3:30pm Thu 3 Jan 13

james jackson says...

Out for consultation. Just who are the Labour rulers consulting?
Out for consultation. Just who are the Labour rulers consulting? james jackson
  • Score: 0

6:36pm Thu 3 Jan 13

Dave on his Soapbox says...

james jackson wrote:
Out for consultation. Just who are the Labour rulers consulting?
......can the council/taxpayer fund my daughter's £18/hour horse riding lesson's .....so she can live her dream of becoming good enough to get to the next Olympics in Rio......
....yes we'd all love someone esle pay for our children to benefit from some extra tuition or hobby....but the public bucket it's bottomless.....just be thankful you've benefitted for all these years...
[quote][p][bold]james jackson[/bold] wrote: Out for consultation. Just who are the Labour rulers consulting?[/p][/quote]......can the council/taxpayer fund my daughter's £18/hour horse riding lesson's .....so she can live her dream of becoming good enough to get to the next Olympics in Rio...... ....yes we'd all love someone esle pay for our children to benefit from some extra tuition or hobby....but the public bucket it's bottomless.....just be thankful you've benefitted for all these years... Dave on his Soapbox
  • Score: 0

7:03pm Thu 3 Jan 13

welshraz says...

Newport council should be ashamed. GMSS is one of the best music support services in the country, and benefits children/teenagers from all backgrounds. Newport council have not been shy to call upon the skills of the staff and children over the years!! The staff are dedicted, and give so much to students, often giving up time off during school holidays to run courses for music groups. I was lucky enough to have been taught and played in many of the music groups run by GMSS from the age of 12 to 23, and they gave me many, many opportunities that I most certainly would not have had without this amazing service.

For those who would prefer the money be spent elsewhere, such as horse riding lessons, teaching music helps students in other social and academic arenas. It helps develop maths skills, encourages spatial awareness, and helps children with social skills and team work. Many children who are tutored through GMSS do not get one-on-one tuition. I often had my 1/2 hour weekly lesson with others.

@Dave, who wants the money for his daughter to ride a horse, this money benefits hundreds of children, not one singular child.
Newport council should be ashamed. GMSS is one of the best music support services in the country, and benefits children/teenagers from all backgrounds. Newport council have not been shy to call upon the skills of the staff and children over the years!! The staff are dedicted, and give so much to students, often giving up time off during school holidays to run courses for music groups. I was lucky enough to have been taught and played in many of the music groups run by GMSS from the age of 12 to 23, and they gave me many, many opportunities that I most certainly would not have had without this amazing service. For those who would prefer the money be spent elsewhere, such as horse riding lessons, teaching music helps students in other social and academic arenas. It helps develop maths skills, encourages spatial awareness, and helps children with social skills and team work. Many children who are tutored through GMSS do not get one-on-one tuition. I often had my 1/2 hour weekly lesson with others. @Dave, who wants the money for his daughter to ride a horse, this money benefits hundreds of children, not one singular child. welshraz
  • Score: 0

11:56pm Thu 3 Jan 13

Benteague says...

Conducting this event has highlighted several things to me. Firstly, it has shown me how music benefits ALL members of the community, given the variation of peoples in the audience surrounding the band of over 75 people. Being a musician is not about who you are, regardless of "class", background, or anything extra. Music is not only a hobby, for a lot of people it is their career. I am an amateur composer and conductor, and I would not have been able to gain the skills I have to this day without GMSS. I have played all over Europe with GMSS ensembles, and I am very proud to have represented my country, along with many other people who would not be able to have participated in these events without the Music Service being in existence.

Being a musician does not only give you the necessary skills to play an instrument, or sing etc, it gives you life skills, too. You have to have self discipline to turn up to rehearsals on time, make sure you have the appropriate equipment with you, ensure you pay attention in rehearsals, be a team player in an ensemble, and much more. A lot of people comment upon how "the young people of today" are up to no good etc, of course, I am somewhat generalising for the purposes of example, but nonetheless, GMSS provides youngsters and young adults with these skills, and a place to express themselves.

As far as the cuts go, yes, there is little money. What we are opposing is the proposed cut of ALL funding for GMSS. Newport City Council contribute money to GMSS, (speaking from personal experience of the service), that is used in the best way possible. If Newport have to cut funding for GMSS, they might consider the £42,000 cut they proposed earlier in 2012, rather than cutting all of the budget. Without the money from Newport City Council, the Service would diminish and certainly provide a lesser standard than its current superlative service.
Conducting this event has highlighted several things to me. Firstly, it has shown me how music benefits ALL members of the community, given the variation of peoples in the audience surrounding the band of over 75 people. Being a musician is not about who you are, regardless of "class", background, or anything extra. Music is not only a hobby, for a lot of people it is their career. I am an amateur composer and conductor, and I would not have been able to gain the skills I have to this day without GMSS. I have played all over Europe with GMSS ensembles, and I am very proud to have represented my country, along with many other people who would not be able to have participated in these events without the Music Service being in existence. Being a musician does not only give you the necessary skills to play an instrument, or sing etc, it gives you life skills, too. You have to have self discipline to turn up to rehearsals on time, make sure you have the appropriate equipment with you, ensure you pay attention in rehearsals, be a team player in an ensemble, and much more. A lot of people comment upon how "the young people of today" are up to no good etc, of course, I am somewhat generalising for the purposes of example, but nonetheless, GMSS provides youngsters and young adults with these skills, and a place to express themselves. As far as the cuts go, yes, there is little money. What we are opposing is the proposed cut of ALL funding for GMSS. Newport City Council contribute money to GMSS, (speaking from personal experience of the service), that is used in the best way possible. If Newport have to cut funding for GMSS, they might consider the £42,000 cut they proposed earlier in 2012, rather than cutting all of the budget. Without the money from Newport City Council, the Service would diminish and certainly provide a lesser standard than its current superlative service. Benteague
  • Score: 0

5:28pm Fri 4 Jan 13

Robindabank says...

About time they stopped banging the drum on this one..
About time they stopped banging the drum on this one.. Robindabank
  • Score: 0

5:58pm Fri 4 Jan 13

Dave on his Soapbox says...

Welshraz….I was being facetious…..and actually £292,000 ÷ £18 = 16,222 horse riding at 52 a year….would mean 312 individual children ….could have lessons which are given by one instructor and a dozen children.…and riding a horse has its own life skills…which may not be exactly be the same as playing a music instrument…. but also builds confidence, animal control and well being, safety…..and to use a pun….it’s horse for courses….some children want to play an instrument others ride a horse etc. …who’s to say one is more meritus than another?
Any extra curricula activity that a child undertakes may have any number of benefits which will help them in many aspects of life……but unfortunately there isn’t a bottomless pot of money to fund everything…..why is this group anymore worthy than any other …..so why should they get continuing support...when there are others that have to find their funding elsewhere…..
Welshraz….I was being facetious…..and actually £292,000 ÷ £18 = 16,222 horse riding at 52 a year….would mean 312 individual children ….could have lessons which are given by one instructor and a dozen children.…and riding a horse has its own life skills…which may not be exactly be the same as playing a music instrument…. but also builds confidence, animal control and well being, safety…..and to use a pun….it’s horse for courses….some children want to play an instrument others ride a horse etc. …who’s to say one is more meritus than another? Any extra curricula activity that a child undertakes may have any number of benefits which will help them in many aspects of life……but unfortunately there isn’t a bottomless pot of money to fund everything…..why is this group anymore worthy than any other …..so why should they get continuing support...when there are others that have to find their funding elsewhere….. Dave on his Soapbox
  • Score: 0

8:19am Tue 8 Jan 13

Meonmysoapbox says...

Dave on your soapbox...

Gwent music has over 7000 children accessing them per week! Not including the hundreds of other children that access them for free projects and special events.

Makes 312 children riding horses for the same amount of money look a bit lame really.....
Dave on your soapbox... Gwent music has over 7000 children accessing them per week! Not including the hundreds of other children that access them for free projects and special events. Makes 312 children riding horses for the same amount of money look a bit lame really..... Meonmysoapbox
  • Score: 0

5:49am Wed 16 Jan 13

Guitarissts says...

I never had time to learn how to play guitar,I learnt a few chords from:
http://www.guitarist
s.net/guitar_lessons
/
I wanted to know some few courses for my guitar lessons...I am wondering if you could share something with me. I'll remain grateful...thanks sincerely!!
I never had time to learn how to play guitar,I learnt a few chords from: http://www.guitarist s.net/guitar_lessons / I wanted to know some few courses for my guitar lessons...I am wondering if you could share something with me. I'll remain grateful...thanks sincerely!! Guitarissts
  • Score: 0

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