An ‘urgent’ meeting requested by The Arts Council (ACE) in May will take place on August 13th according to East Sussex County Council (ESCC).
In May The Arts Council’s area director Hedley Swain asked for a meeting with the council so it could provide ‘urgent confirmation’ that ESCC would be able to hold up its end of a bargain struck between the two organisations even if plans went ahead to end one-to-one music tuition in the county’s schools.
If cost saving plans to scrap instrumental tuition in East Sussex schools goes ahead ACE has warned that the county council could find itself in breach of the terms of a funding agreement it signed with the Arts Council just three months ago and could lose almost £1.3m in funding.
Writing to Councillor Keith Glazier, leader of East Sussex County Council, Mr Swain said: “We believe the East Sussex proposals would have an impact on the business plan submitted to us and put you at risk of being in breach of the funding agreement.”
ACE is questioning whether, without one-to-one instrumental tuition going on in schools, the East Sussex Music Hub can deliver on its business plan, thereby putting not only the instrumental service but all of the music service across the county in jeopardy turning East Sussex in to a ‘cultural desert’.
Mr Swain asks how the music service would be able to provide individual and small group tuition; how quality assurance of instrumental provision will be carried out; how instrumental teachers will access Continuing Professional Development; how the East Sussex Music Hub will increase progression from whole class to small group tuition?
A meeting to discuss all these issues has been arranged between ESCC and ACE on August 13th. Attending will be Councillor Bob Standley, county council lead member for education and inclusion, and representatives from the county council’s children’s services department.
An East Sussex County Council spokesman said: “From the beginning of this process we have held constructive dialogue with ACE and we will continue to do so.
“Before making any decision to close the small group and individual instrument music lessons, we would work through how we would ensure we meet funding criteria, in the same way that other authorities who have closed part of their music service have had to do.
“We will also continue to explore alternative ways this part of the service could be delivered to avoid the need for closure, which could be delivered in a way that is financially sustainable in the current difficult financial climate.
“We would urge anyone with a view on this to make sure their views can be considered before a final decisions is made, by taking part in our consultation on this issue, which runs until Friday July 27th.”