Nordoff Robbins strongly oppose Government proposals to cut funding for performing arts courses in England

The proposed funding cut will be catastrophic for music provision at HE level.

The Office for Students (OfS), the independent regulator for HE in England, has opened a consultation on funding for 2021-22, closing on 6 May. “The Government proposes that the courses…that are not among its strategic priorities – covering subjects in music, dance, drama and performing arts; art and design; media studies; and archaeology – are to be subject to a reduction of 50 percent.”

In reply, Simon Procter, Director of Music Services (Education, Research and Public Affairs) writes:

As an organisation rooted in music therapy, Nordoff Robbins is committed to making the social, cultural and personal advantages of skilfully facilitated music-making as available as possible to people who stand to benefit most from these opportunities. We also advocate for the rights to music education and musical activity of everyone, especially young people.

That’s why we very strongly oppose the government’s proposal to slash funding to the performing and creative arts in higher education. The likely result will be fewer opportunities for students in England wishing to study music across HE, which will in turn discourage non-private schools from offering either music tuition or music as a subject at A-level, thus repositioning musical skill as a divisive marker of social privilege, not a means of building a cohesive and healthy society. This will further impact on school students’ opportunities to develop the musical skills and gain the musical experiences which we know help them to live healthy and fulfilling lives.

In addition, as a leading provider of music therapy services, and as a trainer of music therapists at postgraduate level, we rely on there being a supply of well-trained musicians from all walks of life who can then bring their musical skills into their work as a specialist music therapist. We consider that this move from the government in relation to England will significantly undermine the UK’s overall reputation as a world leader in the field of music therapy as well as impacting on our ability to bring the benefits of music therapy to those members of our society who stand to benefit from it most – those living with dementia or learning difficulties, those recovering from mental illness, stroke or brain injury, and people who are experiencing social exclusion.

We are dismayed that the government is choosing to ignore the very substantial evidence for the social and economic value of investing in the training of musicians and other performing artists. We stand by our colleagues in music education and in the music industry in opposing this change and calling for a fundamental shift in government attitudes to the value of the arts within society.

The Musicians Union has also issued a reply saying:

  • The proposed funding cut will be catastrophic for music provision at HE level, affecting our members’ work, the financial viability of music courses, and training for the next generation of musicians and music professionals
  • Music was worth £5.8 billion to the UK economy in 2019, much of which depends on properly funded HE provision
  • The notice given of this cut is far too short to enable HE institutions to plan for September
  • The UK’s HE music provision could lose its world-leading status as a result of this cut