I have just received the Arts Council's news letter, a glossy publication which comes out every few months. In it, the Arts Council highlights the ventures of which they are most proud - at least that's what I presume they are doing. Text size is large, pictures are to the fore; the result is attractive and promotional, with articles sometimes lacking in depth.
Most worrying about this latest issue is the remarkable absence of Western Classical Music. Granted the cover picture is for a production at the Royal Opera House, but that was of Damon Albarn's Monkey: Journey to the West and is hardly typical of the work general promoted at Covent Garden. The only other classical references are to the performers involved in the 2012 Olympics spot at the closing ceremony.
The remainder of the document covers everything from World Music to location specific art and theatrical performance. There are 2 articles relating to music, one covering a group of World Music Festivals and the other relating to a superb project for access to music for disabled people.
The range of projects funded by the Arts Council is impressive, I just wish that they were a little bit prouder of the work that they do in sponsoring classical music in this country. Unfortunately access seems to be the key-word at the moment, but only access of a certain type.
The Royal Opera House is re-instating its Paul Hamlyn performances, where those unused to visiting the opera are able to buy tickets at discount prices. But this is being done in tandem with the Helen Hamlyn Trust and the Sun Newspaper. Surely this is an area that the Arts Council should be investing in.
Instead of really looking at the difficult subject of bringing Classical Music to people and helping them understand it, the Arts Council seems to be content to re-define what it means by Art and create events which will be popular enough to be appreciated by the masses. Or am I being cynical.
What I do know, from personal experience, is that it is getting harder and harder for small scale groups to get money to present classical music and create new music.