Proposals include the closure of the BBC Singers and a voluntary redundancy programme for the BBC Symphony, BBC Concert and BBC Philharmonic orchestras aimed at cutting around 20% of employed jobs.
BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra appear unaffected.
As well as representing affected members and working with the BBC on alternative proposals, the union is urgently calling on MPs to:
- Support the union in its fight to save jobs and
- Lobby for an extension to the increased Orchestral Tax Relief beyond April
The MU calls on all members to email their MP urgently. The BBC is the single biggest employer of musicians in the UK. Any attack on their music provision – from orchestral music to BBC Introducing – affects us all.
BBC Singers and Orchestras are a vital part of the BBC
MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl spoke out today:
“The BBC is the biggest employer and engager of musicians in the UK and it plays a unique role in the eco-system of our music industry. From Glastonbury to the Proms, from Jools Holland to BBC Radio, its coverage, support and promotion of UK musical talent nationally and internationally is unrivalled. It is because we appreciate the BBC's role so much that these proposed cuts are so utterly devastating.”
“The BBC Performing Groups are vital to the BBC. They are busy, they perform a wide range of roles across numerous high-profile programmes and events, and they also already contribute to music education.
“The hundreds of singers and musicians the BBC employs will be very concerned about their futures today. We will support them and stand with them to push back against these proposals. We will fight for every job. This will mean working with the BBC to look at alternative measures, representing affected individuals, and also calling on the Government to step in with more support.
“Musicians have suffered greatly during the pandemic and with the rising cost-of-living. As a profession and as an industry, we remain in crisis. The Government could protect organisations and jobs in the short term by extending the increased rate of orchestral tax relief beyond April. Going forward, they must also increase funding so that organisations can preserve jobs and continue to deliver the world-class music that Britain is renowned for.”
The BBC is the single biggest employer of musicians in the UK
Jo Laverty, the MU’s Orchestras Organiser, added:
“The BBC Performing Groups are a key asset that sets the BBC apart from commercial broadcasters, and the BBC’s recent Classical Music Review gave the impression this was well understood and indicated a full commitment from the broadcaster to their ongoing employment. To now hear of potential redundancies across the BBC orchestras in England and the closure of the Singers as a performing group is unthinkable.
“The BBC Orchestras and Singers, and the exceptional quality of their live and broadcast output, ensure that the BBC remains one of the most significant players in the classical music industry, both in the UK and internationally.
“They also make a crucial contribution in meeting the public purposes of the BBC’s royal charter by providing education and learning, stimulating creativity and cultural excellence whilst serving the UK’s nations, regions and communities. This is achieved not just via broadcasting but by taking performances into communities and education settings the length and breadth of the UK.
“With the six Performing Groups all fully utilised in meeting the current broadcast volume requirement across the BBC, the MU does not think that these proposals are the answer to the BBC’s need to find savings. The MU’s key focus will be on talking regularly and working with the BBC to avoid any loss of jobs and challenging them to find alternative solutions.”
Take action to protect BBC Singers and Orchestras
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Any members affected who wish to speak to the MU should contact their regional office or the Orchestras Department via orchestral@theMU.org.