Music campaigners have their moment in the spotlight in front of full council

Campaigners hoping to change East Sussex County Council’s (ESCC) mind over plans to end music tuition in schools will be given a hearing at next week’s full council meeting.

If a petition attracts more than 5,000 signatures then ESCC is obliged to debate it and so far the petition against cuts to the music service has more than12,000 signatures and rising all the time.

Petitioners say they, “…oppose the closure of East Sussex Music Instrumental Service. To avoid the dramatic impact this would have for the thousands of children concerned, we believe that East Sussex County Council should provide the funding or implement alternative changes to keep the service open.”

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An artwork being used by campaigners to get their message across.

Earlier this year ESCC announced were being made to close the music instrumental service by 2019 because of a funding shortfall of £80,000. The closure would result in loss of music provision for thousands of children across the county and job losses for teachers and administrative staff.

The  East Sussex Music Service is celebrating its 84th year and delivers music lessons to around 7,000 children in schools. Nearly 1,000 children aged between four and 18 attend area music centres each week.

Staff at the music service believe that the funding required to keep the service open can be found or alternatively there are viable structures that the council can implement that would allow the service to continue.

ESCC’s Petition Scheme allows for the petition to be presented to, and debated by, the full council. At next Wednesday’s meeting a representative of the petitioners will be given five minutes to present the petition before the debate among the councillors takes place. Under council rules the matter will be discussed for a maximum of 15 minutes. Councillors will then decide how to respond. Options available to it include taking action that the petition requests, to take no action, or to commission further investigation into the matter.

There is currently a consultation process taking place about the future of the music service but campaigners are skeptical about the whether that consultation process will have any effect on the ultimate decision made by the council – they believe councillors are already set on a course of action.

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Lewes MP Maria Caufield, Jane Humberstone one of the leading campaigners and Councillor Phillip Daniels showing their support for the music service. 

Before next Wednesday’s meeting all councillors will receive emails directly from campaigners who say they want to ‘bombard’ them with reasons to reject the proposals.

It was in April when ESCC announced that the music service was at risk and that a consultation process would be implemented and since then a host of big name stars including Lord Lloyd-Webber, Elaine Paige and John Rutter have backed the campaign and at the same time there have been scores of testimonials from people for whom instrumental tuition in schools has been a huge part of their personal development, those testimonials also include endorsements from men and women from Sussex who have gone on to have successful careers in the music industry.

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