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Hello Halle

Eddie Mair | 15:20 UK time, Thursday, 2 December 2010

As part of our ongoing series on the effect of the government spending cuts in Greater Manchester Andrew Bomford has been to the Halle Orchestra, which has experienced a cut of £150,000 in its funding from the Arts Council. That's about 7% off a grant of £2.2 million. Andrew has been talking to the Halle's famous conductor Sir Mark Elder, who has some controversial views on the funding of the arts in Britain, and also recording some sound of a rehearsal for tonight's concert at the Bridgewater Hall of Dvorak's Slavonic Dances. You can hear all that tonight. In the meantime here are some photos:


  • 1. At 4:24pm on 02 Dec 2010, The Intermittent Horse wrote:

    Well, I’m not surprised that they are withdrawing money from them. By the looks of it, half that orchestra is on the fiddle.

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  • 2. At 4:43pm on 02 Dec 2010, Sindy wrote:

    And the others are on the horn, or blowing their own trumpets ...

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  • 3. At 4:47pm on 02 Dec 2010, davmcn wrote:

    I support the Cleveland Orchestra.

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  • 4. At 4:57pm on 02 Dec 2010, davmcn wrote:

    What a disappointment, I thought this thread was going to be about Halle Berry. She is also from Cleveland.

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  • 5. At 7:48pm on 02 Dec 2010, Lynda wrote:

    I much appreciated the item about Art Funding and orchestras in particular. In my opinion, items about sport are given enormous airing whilst important matters concerning our arts heritage are largely overlooked and ignored.
    I have special concerns in this regard. My daughter is studying violin at the Royal College of Music in London and I would like to think that she has the possibility of a career in classical music. I know first hand the kind of discipline and sacrifice involved in learning to play an instrument to the standard displayed in the great national orchestras.Your item regarding "funding" raises many issues of which the question of public or private finance is only one. It seems to me that we need a public debate about what the Arts mean to us and how impoverished we would be as a nation without being able to attend concerts throughout the country and listen to music written by the world's greatest composers and performed by its greatest musicians.
    Sadly, we live in a "celebrity" culture when to be famous means that you appear "on TV". Real endeavour and achievement is not necessarily part of that.Too often there is the perception that anyone can put themselves forward with a modicom of talent and succeed, becoming "famous". There has always been a strong popular culture and there are many good and valid varieties of entertainment but this is a plea for art which must be striven for, which can enrich and inform us, lifting us out of the difficulties of our existence, touching our emotions and allowing us to explore the great themes of life. There are serious questions as to how all this may be funded but it seems to me that unless there is some understanding of how much music means to us and a sense of the necessity to inform and educate, both in our schools and in the general population, we are at serious risk of not having any performers in the future. Our daughter is one of a handful of british string players at RCM. The majority of the strings players are from overseas and it is exceedingly difficult for a strings player to gain a place at our leading national conservatoires without having been to a specialist music school because the technical standard is so high. We live in Devon and there is very little classical music in the county. Some excellent local groups try to keep things going and keep classical music alive but unless there is serious discussion and promotion by the media( I think, by the way, that classic fm does a very good job!)orchestras may become something of "museum" pieces if they exist at all.

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  • 6. At 11:11am on 03 Dec 2010, Anne P wrote:

    Lynda, you make some very good and impassioned points. Unfortunately the regularly funded arts have gone down a route of interpreting the encouraging of diversity as meaning not that everyone should have the opportunity to make and see good art, but that every contribution is equally valid no matter its quality. All across the country arts organisations with long and excellent histories are being displaced by council run venues bringing in touring shows which do nothing to develop local talent and are often of much lesser quality that what they have replaced. Moreover such touring entertainment is only possible because the participants learned their craft in the organisations that no longer exist. What hope for the next generation?

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  • 7. At 1:25pm on 03 Dec 2010, annasee wrote:

    Lynda, don't despair. Your daughter is obviously very talented to have got this far, and I'm sure she'll be able to make a career in music. It's just that these days, unless you're one of the minute percentage of players to get a full-time job in an orchestra, you have to be able to function as a musician in many different environments. Teaching, working on education projects in schools or community settings(that "diversity" again), playing as part of a string quartet for corporate functions, weddings, even busking, playing in hotels or on cruise ships, are all valid ways of earning a living as a classical musician. I know many freelance string players, and they all do most of those things, AS WELL as play with professional full-time orchestras as an extra player when needed. Playing with orchestras like the Halle is the icing on the cake, not necessarily the regular work.

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  • 8. At 1:34pm on 03 Dec 2010, annasee wrote:

    PS Can I have a bonus point for pointing out that the last photo shows Lyn Fletcher, the Halle's Leader? She is the violinist on the left. An absolutely stellar player. It's still fairly unusual, even in this day and age, to find a full-time orchestra led by a woman.

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  • 9. At 3:33pm on 04 Dec 2010, davmcn wrote:

    annasee 8, I have a photo of the Cleveland Orchestra somewhere that was printed backwards.

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  • 10. At 5:51pm on 05 Dec 2010, funnyJoedunn wrote:

    I like chamber music.

    The thing about arts funding is, the artists of any particular discipline tend to see themselves and put forward the argument for funding from a subjective view-point. Funding, (although I belive it to be fallacy) we might be lead to belive is given on an objective a basis as possible. But to give one example; the National opera house in London got about fifty million quid in lottery funding. The largest grant given by them maybe? However, what percentage of the population directly benefit form the national opera house?, what percentage of the population actually go to the opera?. perhaps more importantly, there is overwhelming evidence that the socioeconomic background of the the largest group of people actually playing the lottery are predominantly working class, council estates, the most deprived areas and the like. It is these people who contribute most to lottery funding yet, I suspect, if you were to ask them what the national opera house, or opera in general meant to them, it would mean nothing? I suspect the same may be said of 'classical music' by the same people. So let us be clear we are talking of a minority sport here that may (or may not) encompass certain historical or class values that most of the population do not do not adhere to. This is one reason why the arts are subjective. I don't agree with giving funding democratically either. If this were the case, art on the level of the X factor would get most of it - the latest fashionable delusion. Yes, fund things from puplic money, but it needs to be seen to be to the greater good of a cohesive society in fact and in function. Not because it is a nice middle class careeer path to choose. All proper art is hard work. there is no dispensation in this regard.

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  • 11. At 4:16pm on 06 Dec 2010, Bassista wrote:

    I agree absolutely with Lynda. Music in this country is world class. Our orchestras and music colleges are so important to the cultural life of Britain. Yes we have to have cuts-we all have to tighten our belts but they government is going to cut all the funding from all arts Higher Education institutions. Including the Royal College of Music, Royal Academy, RNCM, everything. This simply isnt fair. No other sector is being hit this hard. There are also massive cuts that mean that music lessons from music services are being axed too.

    All this serves to do is make music the preserve of the rich. Very few of us who come out of music college go on to earn megabucks. We freelance, get a contract with an orchestra if we're lucky, teach and get by. If these cuts go ahead, to go to a music college will mean coming out with debts of £30k plus purely for an undergrad course. This will be prohibitive for most students. Most of my friends working in music today couldn't have afforded this, myself included.

    It's not only people taht want to make a career in music that will be affected. Our orchestras do incredible outreach work and give thousands of children access to amazing music. Kids that learn an instrument and participate in orchestras, bands etc learn how to work as a team, how to take a leading role, they improve their confidence, it helps with maths, linguistic skills, they express themselves, improvise, it helps kids with learning difficulites- I could go on and on. So it's not some rarified thing that doesn't affect most kids. If anything, provision should be increased, not cut.

    I'm arranging something called Guerilla Orchestra. On Friday 10th December at 6pm, orchestras will appear in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Leeds and Cardiff. We'll play Mission Impossible, then leave. No speeches, no banners, purely music. If anyone would like to be invovled, search for the group on Facebook- all the info is there. It's a different kind of protest but I think it makes the point that if these cuts go ahead, this is what will be missing.

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