Cool Britannia trumpets music

10th July 1998 at 01:00
Diane Spencer meets the man in charge of the Pounds 10m lottery windfall.

THE man with Pounds 10 million of lottery cash to spend each year on developing the musical talents of young people has no illusions about the nature of his task.

Gavin Henderson, who has just been appointed chairman of the new Youth Music Trust, said that the cash would be a "tremendous help, but is a drop in the ocean, as the legacy of neglect of the past 15 years has cost the county music services at least Pounds 100 million a year".

However, he praised culture minister Chris Smith's "brave and highly commendable" move in pushing through the lottery scheme.

The announcement of the cash came at the end of May after The TES launched its Music for the Millennium campaign to highlight the funding crisis facing music services following ministers' decision to concentrate on the 3Rs in primary schools.

Mr Henderson, principal of London's Trinity College of Music, said the announcement was timely as the Department for Education and Employment was under pressure to do something about musical instrument teaching, lottery guidelines were changing and the Arts Council - responsible for donating the lottery money - was in a state of flux. He wants the cash to set up a fund like the Musicians' Benevolent Fund to help young people start their musical life.

The trust will tap into NESTA (the lottery-primed National Endowment for Science, Technology and Arts) and the New Opportunities Fund.

It will pick up on work once managed by education authorities' music services. Surveys have shown that local peripatetic music service trusts have largely replaced the local authority services.

Mr Henderson said that while some are very successful the picture is patchy. "We face a dilemma in that good authorities should not be penalised in our effort to spread the funds. We must reward good examples and give a leverage to enable vacant plots to be planted out. "We have to be a bridge between professional companies, schools and the new music services. We can't provide year-on-year subsistence; we have a real desire to make things happen, but we are not a bailing out process."

He wants to move into "areas neglected by the graded exam system. Bamboo flutes, steel-pan, gamelin. We must be more pro-active. The past 15 years have been about arts management, not making or doing; the 80s was accountancy culture, the 90s consultancy culture, by 2000 it should be about doing it".

He says recruitment must be addressed as he calculates that there is a shortage of 2000 music teachers.

The trust has a high Cool Britannia factor - trustees include pop icons, Mick Hucknall of Simply Red and Sir Elton John, as well as Sir Simon Rattle, the conductor and fierce critic of the down-grading of music in the national curriculum, and soprano Lesley Garrett.

"It's easy to be cynical," admits Mr Henderson, "but they are wonderfully diverse in the music they represent. It would be silly to expect them all to sit round a committee table. It would be better to ask them how much time they can commit to the cause and ask them how they can reach young people."

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