On 14 February 2017, Kirsty Williams, Cabinet Secretary for Education will make a statement in Plenary on the establishment of the National Endowment for Music.
There have long standing concerns about funding pressures for non-statutory, local authority music education services. In March 2015, the then Minister for Education and Skills, Huw Lewis, established a Music Services Task and Finish Group. The Group, looked at music service delivery; charging policies, musical instrument supply and partnership working. The Group also considered issues around resourcing the future development of music education in Wales, and the potential for a National Endowment for Music. The Group recommended that:
The Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh Government should investigate the possibility and parameters for the establishment of a National Endowment for Music to develop the opportunities for young people to realise their possibilities through music skills and talents. The research should look at the model for such an endowment and its resourcing, including the potential for a voluntary ticket levy, and Ministers should receive a report on initial feasibility within six months.
The then Minister accepted the recommendations in October 2015. Trio Consulting was commissioned by the Arts Council of Wales to undertake a feasibility study on the establishment of the endowment. The report was presented to the previous Minister for Education and Skills and Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism in December 2015.
What can we expect?
In his written evidence to the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee on 14 September 2016, [PDF 241KB] Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure said that in partnership with the Cabinet Secretary for Education and the Arts Council for Wales, the Welsh Government were considering the establishment of a permanent endowment fund for music.
The aim is to build-up a fund of £20 million or more. In time, it could yield up to a £1 million per year to support young people to develop their skills and talents in music. Achieving this target is possible, albeit it will be very challenging, so the fund will need to attract funds from various public and private sector sources.
We are consulting a range of potential partners and beneficiaries, to ensure we have an effective plan for creating and sustaining this new body.
In March 2015, Huw Lewis and Ken Skates, then Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, jointly commissioned a task and finish group to look the future of the National Ensembles. The group’s report, Securing a sustainable future for the national youth arts ensembles of Wales [PDF 825KB] (January 2016) made recommendations for the Welsh Government, Arts Council, local authorities, and National Youth Arts Wales (NYAW) – the umbrella body for the ensembles.
One recommendation was that a remodelled National Youth Arts Wales and the Welsh Government should fully explore the potential for NYAW to become a key beneficiary of the National Endowment.
The announcement will clearly be of interest to all those involved in music in Wales and for the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee who are conducting an inquiry into funding and access to music education.
Article by Sian Hughes, National Assembly for Wales Research Service