Funding cut hits Lancashire Sinfonietta orchestra plans

Musicians from Lancashire Sinfonietta
Image caption Lancashire Sinfonietta is under threat because of funding difficulties

A Lancashire chamber orchestra has suspended its programme because of financial difficulties.

Malcolm Brown, chairman of the Lancashire Sinfonietta, said the move was due to its grant from Lancashire County Council being cut by 80%.

He said they were unable to mount the programme of work "due to a lack of funding."

Councillor Marcus Johnstone said: "We can't provide them with money that simply doesn't exist."

"We are in the midst of a period of real austerity and must make further savings of around £300m over the next four years," Mr Johnstone added.

"Despite these pressures, we continued to fund the Sinfonietta for two years from 2011 to 2013 while we helped them to prepare for the future as an independent organisation, and the orchestra became a charity in August last year."

'Precipitous decision'

Last year, the council gave £144,000 to the orchestra. This year, Lancashire Sinfonietta applied for £96,500 but was offered £28,591.

In a letter to friends of the orchestra, Mr Brown said: "After 17 years of generous funding, Lancashire County Council has cut the orchestra's grant by over 80% in 2013-14.

"This precipitous decision has left the orchestra with no choice but to suspend its planned programme for the coming year. The trustees of the orchestra have explored a range of options.

"However, it appears unlikely that we can sustain the work of the orchestra in the circumstances."

'Dire straits'

Mr Brown said they had hoped the local authority "might have provided more time" for the orchestra to generate alternative funding.

"Sadly this has not been the case," he added.

Mr Brown said the orchestra had earned a highly deserved reputation as a high quality professional chamber orchestra since its foundation 17 years ago.

During that time it produced great music, a catalogue of excellent recordings and a substantial programme of innovative work with children and families and for young musicians, he added.

"The orchestra is in dire straits this year and there are no white knights on the horizon."

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