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Simon Rattle, music education and a new concert hall for London

26th February 2015

Charlotte Higgins is right to highlight the fact that building a new concert hall in London is shortsighted unless the issue of music education and access to the arts is addressed at the same time (Simon Rattle is waving his baton at the wrong cause, 23 February).

Any new hall will depend on there being an eager audience for Simon Rattle’s concerts. With funding to music hubs being cut throughout the current government’s tenure, so that support has dropped from £82.5m in 2011-12 (already lower than under the previous government) to £52m in 2014-15, the latter boosted for some unexplained reason by an emergency extra grant of £18m, and with headteachers not being obliged to include arts subjects in the curriculum, there is a real danger that the lack of engagement with classical music by young people will make a new concert hall in London or one of the existing halls a white elephant.

Why not spend the £400m that a new hall might cost on providing first access and continuing musical education in schools and hubs, particularly for those from the C1, D and E social grades who are seriously disadvantaged under current funding schemes? Indeed, why not do that and build a new hall as well?

Leslie East

Former chief executive, ABRSM

Read more on the Guardian website