New figures show that Arts Council England gives more than half of its available music funding to opera, yet bids relating to popular music receive just eight per cent. This story, where Arts Chiefs have been branded “too posh for pop” gathered great momentum last week, and it was even covered by The Sun newspaper…
Between 2018 and 2022, Arts Council England (ACE) will invest £1.45bn of public funds and an estimated £860m from the National Lottery to support arts and culture across England.
According to an analysis by campaigning group UK Music, of the £368m funding available to music, opera receives the largest share with 62 percent, followed by classical (23 percent), pop (eight percent), multi-genre (three percent) and jazz (two percent).
UK Music chief executive officer Michael Dugher said:
“Opera is a key part of our vibrant and diverse cultural scene in the UK and many of our members are classical musicians. But the current way taxpayers’ money is allocated is manifestly unjust and should be urgently reviewed to ensure all types of music are treated fairly.
It is indefensible that pop music gets just £1 for every £8 of taxpayers’ cash that is awarded by the Arts Council to opera under its National Portfolio. The Arts Council risks giving the impression that it is elitist and too posh for pop.”
He added: “The UK music industry contributes £4.4bn a year to the UK economy – with live music alone contributing more than £1bn. But it is vital that we nurture our talent pipeline to bring on the next generation to follow in the footsteps of our world-famous stars like Adele, Ed Sheeran and Stormzy.
The Arts Council has an important role to play in talent development so the UK maintains its position as a global leader in popular music, but the way it currently allocates its funding is deeply flawed and unfair”
ACE has responded to this by claiming that the figures do not tell the full story.
Mark Pemberton, director of the Association of British Orchestras, has also commented with the interesting point that the perception of elitism surrounding opera is outdated – He says “More than two million people go to opera performances every year, not just in theatres but in prisons, warehouses, in parks and schools.”