Government's £80m boost for the arts will help hundreds of musical children in Portsmouth says city music hub boss

THE head of a city music institution has praised the government for spending £80m to extend a ‘critical’ arts programme for children.

Monday, 6th January 2020, 3:22 pm
Updated Monday, 6th January 2020, 5:51 pm

The multi-million pound culture boost was signed off by schools minister Nick Gibb and will fund music hubs nationwide – including those in Hampshire.

And while the news has been welcomed, those in charge of the city’s establishment have warned the cash would only extend the projects for a year.

Now, Sue Beckett, chief executive of Portsmouth Music Hub has urged the government to pledge to extend funding beyond 2021.

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She appealed to find out what the government’s ‘next step’ was to support hubs on a more permanent basis, giving them more certainty for the future.

‘This money is absolutely critical, we couldn’t do what we do without it. It’s a central part of everything we do,’ Mrs Beckett said.

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‘The extension of this funding is excellent news for the hub and excellent news for the children of Portsmouth.

More than 250 young singers, dancers and musicians took to the Guildhall for the Soundsational show, produced by Portsmouth Music Hub

‘But this is only an extension of funding we have received since 2012. It’s not new funding.’

The Conservative manifesto committed to offer an ‘arts premium’ to secondary schools, allowing children to develop and learn more creative skills.

Within the latest package of funding announced by Bognor Regis and Littlehampton MP Mr Gibb was a £1m cash boost to charities to support young musicians and £4m in funding for a series of other cultural education programmes, including in film making, dance and theatre.

Mr Gibb said: ‘Music, arts and culture play an essential role in enriching pupils’ education and we want to give as many young people as possible the opportunity to learn an instrument or perform in a choir or a band.

‘Our continued investment will play an important role in helping young people widen their horizons and access all the opportunities that learning a musical instrument can provide - whether that be playing for pleasure or performing.’

In total, music hubs have been supported by £300m between 2016 and 2020, part of an overall investment of £500m in the arts.

Mrs Beckett added Portsmouth Music Hub was among one of the nation’s first to be set up, opening in November 2011.

Since then, it has supported thousands of children across the city, won a number of national awards and staged numerous live events for young musicians.

Mrs Beckett said the group was now looking to find corporate sponsors to back future events.