The Musicians' Union has today received the following message from the BBC in relation to the future of its Performing Groups.
We believe this signals a resetting of the consultation process from the BBC's perspective and we will re-enter talks with them on the basis that discussion will focus on alternatives to the job cuts they had initially proposed.
The message from the BBC
"Following our recent discussions, we want to confirm that, whilst the BBC needs to make savings, we are committed to working with the MU to explore alternatives to the proposed 20% post closures in the English Orchestras.
“These alternatives will look to create sustainability for our Performing Groups and to deliver the recommendations of the 2022 Classical Review – which are outlined below:
- We will collaborate more with partners across the UK
- We will invest more in education
- We will do more to open up the classical sector as a place to work
- We will innovate to bring classical music to new audiences
“In exploring alternative proposals, we will also invite independent experts from across the sector to work with us and the Musicians' Union.
“In parallel, we remain committed to consulting the Musicians' Union on progress regarding the alternative models being proposed for the BBC Singers.”
Members will be involved and consulted throughout
MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl said: "Over the past two weeks, we have had more positive discussions with the BBC and we believe they have listened to the concerns of the Union, our members and the wider industry.
“While we appreciate the financial challenges faced by the broadcaster in the current climate, we have always been fierce advocates for their unique role in the sector and we will approach this consultation with a focus on building on what they do rather than paring it down.
“There are many issues to discuss but our objective will be to protect jobs and look initially at income generation and greater use of the Performing Groups within the BBC itself. We will consult and involve our members throughout the process."
Commenting on the wider context, Chair of the MU’s Executive Committee and Steward of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra Alex Gascoine added: "The MU understands the challenges caused by a gradual decline in funding for music and the arts in the UK.
“We will continue to represent and consult our members, lobby the Government and work with the wider arts sector to ensure the most sustainable future for our industry and its artists.”
Take action now to protect jobs in the BBC’s Performing Groups
The MU is asking all members and supporters to email the BBC Director General Tim Davie and the BBC Board, calling on them to:
- Maintain the BBC Singers as a full-time employed BBC Performing Group with a bright future
- Withdraw proposals to make 20% cuts to jobs in the BBC Concert, Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestras
- Commit to maintaining all six Performing Groups as an essential part of the BBC’s public service remit
It includes space for you to explain why you care about the BBC Singers and orchestras. It also covers key arguments for protecting and maintaining the BBC Concert Orchestra, Philharmonic Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra.