DEARNE MPs demand urgent rescue of Britain’s brass bands

Jazz trumpet
Jazz trumpet

FOUR MPs from the Dearne and Barnsley areas have asked to meet the Minister for Culture urgently, to discuss “funding and the very future of brass bands in the UK”.

Michael Dugher MP, Dan Jarvis MP, John Healey MP and Angela Smith MP, have written their request to Ed Vaizey MP following reports that stricken Grimethorpe Colliery Band could be forced to fold.

The MPs write that “the current plight of this world famous brass band emphasises the very real financial pressures facing many brass bands across the UK. Other local bands with a more local but very proud tradition are struggling and also on the brink”.

The letter argues for a fundamental shift, not only for arts funding, but in attitude.

It is signed by:Dan Jarvis MBE MP, Member of Parliament for Barnsley Central and a Shadow Culture Minister, Michael Dugher MP, Member of Parliament for Barnsley East. Michael is the MP for Grimethorpe and also Vice-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Brass Bands, John Healey MP, Member of Parliament for Wentworth and Dearne, and Angela Smith MP, Member of Parliament for Penistone and Stocksbridge and the current Chair All Party Parliamentary Group for Brass Bands.

Their missive states: “We believe that problems facing the Grimethorpe Colliery Band highlight the long-term, sustained inequalities in funding between different musical art forms, as well as a consistent failure to recognise that brass bands have a significant artistic and cultural worth.

“In 2011/12, the Arts Council allocated funding totalling £26 million to the Royal Opera House in London and the English National Ballet received £6.4 million. In comparison, the organisation responsible for supporting 458 brass band groups nationwide, the British Federation of Brass Bands (now Brass Bands England), only received £23,000.

“We appreciate that the Arts Council has said it is due to increase funding to Brass Bands England over the next few years, but this is still dwarfed by the amount that goes to other branches of the arts.

“Without this imbalance being addressed, the UK risks losing a musical tradition that is interwoven into many regions’ histories, a tradition that is so often at the heart of the communities to which they belong. And brass bands are not only a vital part of the UK’s heritage, they are still enjoyed by thousands of people around the country week in, week out.

“We believe that a fundamental shift, not only in arts funding, but in attitude, is needed to secure the future of brass bands such as Grimethorpe.”