BBC Performing Groups - the Controller's view
The report was commissioned by the BBC from John Myerscough in order to examine the options for making budget savings in the BBC orchestras and BBC Singers. This is in line with the recent work undertaken across the BBC to deal with the flat licence fee settlement over the next four years.
These are only proposals at this stage and consultation now has to take place but the report is a very interesting piece of work and has suggested areas for savings. Each group has subsequently worked on its ideas and has developed its own plan.
These have been uncertain times for my colleagues in our five orchestras and the Singers, and we have all waited for the day when this work can be made known. For BBC Radio3 and the BBC Proms these groups remain vital to our work – not only our unparalleled commitment to live music but also our support for new and unfamiliar work. It would be very hard, for example, for us to be able to present our Radio 3 Live in Concert strand every weekday evening without them and impossible for us to be the world’s most significant commissioner of new work.
The orchestras and the Singers give us long term planning certainty and an editorial freedom that is rightly celebrated in the classical music world. I am delighted therefore that today’s report not only explains the groups’ specific roles within the BBC but also acknowledges the importance of their work more broadly and crucially recognises their distinctiveness and quality.
They are indeed an asset that is too easily taken for granted and, although it will not be easy for our colleagues in the groups to make the savings under discussion, it is good that this external report has so clearly reinforced the rationale for their continuing existence and points out the vital role they play in UK cultural life.