A public consultation on proposals to cut the county’s music service has been launched.
East Sussex County Council says the service cannot continue to fund individual and small group instrumental lessons without affecting other statutory children’s services.
It says an Arts Council grant and income from lessons does not cover the cost of instrumental teaching in East Sussex Music, and despite major restructuring the service still needs to save £180,000 to balance its books.
Councillor Bob Standley, the county council’s lead member for education and ISEND, said, “We recognise the value of the music service in East Sussex, but cannot afford to provide the music service in its current format.
“We want to do everything we can to ensure pupils continue to have the opportunity to learn to play an instrument, and this consultation will give people the opportunity to share their views, ideas and any information that will help us achieve this.”
He added, “Reducing the role of the music service is not a decision we want to take, but significant cuts in Government funding mean we have to make some incredibly difficult decisions to ensure we are protecting the most vulnerable people in our county and delivering services we have a statutory duty to provide.”
The county council says it has provided some funding from its reserves to enable the service to continue, but once this funding has been used the service will be left with a shortfall in its budget.
While the proposal would see the closure of the instrumental teaching part of the service, East Sussex Music would continue to provide whole-class instrumental teaching in schools, the county’s four area music centres – which offer children the chance to play in ensembles – and the sixth form music education provision at the Academy of Music.
Should the proposals go ahead, lessons would be provided through the private market or through other organisations, which are already used by many children in East Sussex to access instrumental lessons.
Meanwhile, the council says East Sussex Music would continue to offer financial support towards the cost of lessons for low income families and would look at ways to increase opportunities for children with special educational needs and disabilities, and other challenging circumstances, to benefit from music-making.
Cllr Standley added, “I would urge people to share their views and ideas during the consultation period, as I am keen to explore all viable alternatives.”
The consultation runs until Friday, July 27.
To take part, click here, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 01273 335250.