Last week, the Arts Council announced the members of the new national network of 122 Music Hubs. Since then, there has been widespread praise for the move to hub-based music provision, as part of the implementation of the National Plan for Music Education. The Federation of Music Services led the response, saying:
“Leadership by Music Services will guarantee a quality local music education giving all children a chance to learn to play an instrument, sing, play in a band and perform. We are disappointed that some Music Services’ bids to lead hubs have been unsuccessful but they will continue to play an essential role within hubs in supporting children in their areas.”
Association of British Choral Directors (ABCD) welcomed the announcement but raised concerns about the difficulties in preparing for change:
“Many projects, staffing contracts and training programmes have been delayed or cancelled completely due to the uncertainty in the sector.”
And of course, funding concerns remain, given the current context for Government spending. Jonathan Savage, who was involved in two hub bids, commented,
“Without wanting to put too much of a dampener on things, I think it is important to remember that music education has already lost a massive amount with more significant losses to come.”
Despite the extensive list of approved hubs published by the Arts Council, it isn’t yet clear what proportion of applicants were unsuccessful or were asked to improve their proposal. It also isn’t clear to what extent organisations will suffer from poor planning and uncertainty, as described by ABCD. What is certain, however, is that those hub bidders who thought strategically and were able to lay plans and engage partners in advance, will be better placed to lead music education activity in the future.
At Cause4, we so welcome the move to a Hub model: it is everything that makes sense to us in these more austere times – collaboration, partnership, effectiveness and the ability to learn from good practice rather than operating in a silo structure.
It will be exciting to see Hubs develop and also for the most successful music hubs to start to map on other arts activities – dance, visual arts or even literacy and numeracy – with a joined up approach. The opportunities in time to improve service provision; for partnerships to form; and ultimately for the public to benefit are great. Hats off to the Arts Council and Government for pushing forward the thinking – there really is great opportunity here to provide our young people with the great music provision that they need if partnerships can be made to work and the right sort of mindset starts to form. We recognise that partnership is not easy, but the model does make perfect sense.
Have you been affected by the hub announcements? Do you see opportunities for music services to change the way they work? Let us know your thoughts at this exciting time for music education.