Jan 17 2013 By Ian Proctor
NEARLY 400 gifted children and young adults could be left without a pan-Harrow orchestra to star in if Harrow Young Musicians (HYM) loses its £58,000 annual grant.
The charity organises bands and hosts concerts for talented children aged seven to 18, but is under threat because Harrow Council is proposing to cut its entire subsidy from April, having reduced the sum in previous years.
Sophia Wadhwani-Brazao, 13, a grade six violinist of Drake Road, Harrow, said: “People think that HYM is just a music school. They think that it doesn’t actually mean anything, but I want to make a stand; I want people to know that HYM is important, that it is worth saving.”
HYM has 380 members and runs four orchestras, two steel bands and a soul band. Participants take part in concerts and trips, including a delegation which travels to Venice each summer to perform.
Jonathan Peel, of Lincoln Road, Harrow, a parent of musicians Connor, 17, and Sean, 15, said: “We know that this is a time of belt-tightening and that the council pot is shrinking year on year, but please do not let this be the result – a removal of support for an enterprise which has brought enjoyment to thousands of children over the years and which operates as a beacon for Harrow and a banner for its enlightened outlook towards the arts.
“Without bodies such as HYM, there would be a huge loss of young, talented performers entering the profession. The next generation of musicians is literally in the council’s hands.”
Parents are charged £180 a year for each child, while the fees for 18 youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds are subsidised. But the group only has funds for school hire, concerts and trips up until the end of the academic year.
Trustee Dr Bareen Shah said: “The grant is nothing to the council, but it’s everything to us.
“We raise money by selling teas and tickets for concerts but the council’s grant is our main
income and goes directly on running costs. Harrow
Young Musicians is one of the
few things that is genuinely open
to children of all backgrounds,
all grades and all ethnicities
– you don’t have to be able to
speak English well to understand music – and if we lose the money, that could be the end of it.”
In September 2012, a Harrow education music hub was set up with a three-year grant of £662,000 from Arts Council England to expand the council’s music service, which organises tuition in schools.
Some of this money should go to HYM as it was influential in getting the hub grant, said the director of HYM, Mark Gooding.
Portfolio holder for community and cultural services, councillor David Perry, said: “A proposal to discontinue grant funding to Harrow Young Musicians was part of the draft budget approved by cabinet in December and this is now subject to agreement by the full council. If the decision is taken, we will be working with HYM through the Harrow Music Education Hub to help them look at reducing their costs and supporting them to access alternative sources of funding, so that they can continue to deliver music services to our community.”
A petition againt the cut has been set up at www.change.org/petitions which 187 people have already signed.
n To see a performance by Harrow Young Musicians visit www.harrowobserver.co.uk.