Musicians in the Northern Ballet Sinfonia are campaigning to protect their touring work and live ballet that is genuinely live.
“The orchestra used to have 30 weeks of work per year performing live with the company. It's now been reduced to about 20-22. Under the current proposals, they would be going down to about four weeks of work performing live each year,” MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl explained.
She was speaking to BBC Radio 4 programme Front Row, representing Northern Ballet Sinfonia musicians and over 8,000 people who signed a petition in support of the campaign to Keep Northern Ballet music live.
“We're concerned about what this means for them, how they're going to fill the rest of the year with work. A lot of them have actually been in touch with us to say they're applying to use food banks, it's a really dire situation for musicians at the moment,” said Naomi.
Listen to the conversation in full on BBC Sounds and iPlayer.
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Musicians and supporters from across the trade union movement will be leafleting and taking part in a photocall outside Newcastle Theatre Royalon on Friday 10 November. Learn more and sign up via the TUC.
An existential question for Arts Council England
It is essential that Arts Council England comes to the table to agree a realistic funding solution that protects unionised jobs and enables everyone to have access to live ballet that is genuinely live.
Northern Ballet Executive Director David Collins explained: “We want that experience to be with live music, whether it's on mainstage theatre or whether it is with our fantastic children's ballet, which goes to smaller theatres and community centres. We absolutely want to maintain live music where we can, we're just in a really challenging financial position.”
Naomi said: “The Arts Council obviously have a role to play. The big existential question is, do we want to have live ballet and opera in the UK? Yes, we do”.
Real terms funding cuts deprive regional audiences of live music
“The government's got a levelling up agenda. They're trying to move money around the UK to make sure that audiences get equal access. Under these proposals, audiences won't get equal access. They will get a sort of watered down product because they won't get the live music experience,” Naomi told Front Row listeners.
It’s a point echoed by Chief Dance Critic at The Times, Debra Craine. “It's a little bit unfortunate that regional audiences are deprived of live music where the capital gets the live music. Naomi mentioned levelling up; what about the regions getting live music? If I were an audience, I would be a bit upset about that. If you're in London, you know you're getting the best of the music and that's really not fair to touring audiences and touring companies,” she added.
Keep pressure on Arts Council England to keep Northern Ballet music live: add your voice to the call and email your MP now.