The Save the BBC Singers petition was delivered to BBC Director General Tim Davie on Tuesday 28 March, as the MU began talks with the BBC about the future of its Performing Groups.
Public support for the BBC Singers
The BBC announced that they were axing the BBC Singers on Tuesday 7 March. Since then, over 150,000 people have signed the Save the BBC Singers petition started by conductor Jack Apperley, helping to demonstrate to the BBC how much public support the group has.
Following this and intense discussions with the MU, the BBC announced that they will not be closing on 30 September and will be included in this year’s BBC Proms. But the BBC Singers’ future is still uncertain.
Hear more about the BBC Singers and the work they do in this ongoing video series, and find out more about the threat that the BBC’s proposals to axe the BBC Singers presented to hundreds of freelancers and early career musicians.
Protecting jobs in the BBC orchestras
The BBC is also proposing 20% cuts to its three English Orchestras: the BBC Concert, BBC Philharmonic and BBC Symphony Orchestras. They collectively employ over 250 musicians.
As the trade union for musicians in the UK, the MU will be entering consultations on Tuesday 28 March. The union will be fighting to protect jobs and ensure that the BBC's six Performing Groups remain intact.
The BBC can row back their proposals
MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl said: “The BBC's decision to close the BBC Singers and make cuts to its English Orchestras has been a complete PR disaster. They have angered at least 150,000 licence fee payers, the entire music industry and their own staff.
“If they can row back on these proposals, which we think they can, then they may yet maintain their position as a vital part of the UK's classical music community and their world-leading reputation.
“We enter talks with them motivated to preserve jobs and ensure that all their Performing Groups can continue to do what they do best, at their current very high standard.”
The BBC should protect and cherish its Performing Groups
Conductor Jack Apperley said: “I am delighted to be able to present this petition to ‘stop the planned closure of the BBC Singers’ through Change.org to the BBC today in partnership with the Musicians’ Union.
“When I started this petition I felt it was important that public opinion should be expressed on this decision that has so many detrimental knock-on effects to the UK’s musical establishment and reputation. The fact that over 150,000 people agree with me and have signed this petition is heartening and clearly demonstrates the importance that the public places on choral singing in this country.
“I would encourage the BBC to protect and cherish its choirs and orchestras as it is in the public’s and therefore their own interest to do so.”