Response to the Culture White Paper

On the 2nd April I wrote to the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport. My letter is printed below.

“Dear Mr Whittingdale

Re: The Culture White Paper

I read the Culture White Paper and I have a number of comments that I trust you will find helpful. Perhaps it might help to explain my background to put my comments in context. I am currently a jazz musician, composer, band leader, record producer, and broadcaster. Until my retirement in May 2014 I was the Director of Jazz Services the national organisation funded by Arts Council England for 29 years. My details can be found at www.chrishodgkins.co.uk

1 I was disappointed to see that in the list of consultees there was no representation from jazz organisations, folk music organisations or Brass Band England all of whom are funded by Arts Council England. Also from the list of consultees no consultation with the Musicians’ Union or Equity.

2 In 2015 I published a paper on public investment of jazz. I enclosed a revised paper, Public Investment in Jazz.  In summary the paper deals with a number of issues pertinent to the lack of funding of jazz by the funding system and covers the following topics:

  • A level playing field for jazz
  • The paucity of public funding for jazz
  • The lack of a coherent policy for jazz and music in the UK
  • The education sector and the supply of jazz musicians and live music
  • Keep music live

3 To summarise the position as succinctly as possible here is my letter to the Guardian 20th February 2016

Darren Henley’s article, “The ENO must evolve for its own sake” (17.02.16) is disingenuous and highlights the problem with the Arts Council and arts funding; a lack of an art form policy that holds the organisation to account for its funding decisions. Before the last funding round in 2015 the Arts Council conducted a comprehensive review of ENO resulting in a £5 million cut in its funding from £17 million to £12 million, but ENO was offered an inducement of £7.6 million to help in the transition of its business plan. In 2015 ENO was awarded National Portfolio Status judged against strict criteria, two of which were an effective business plan and sound governance. Shortly after passing these tests ENO was put into “special measures”. Darren Henley seems to think in this age of harsh austerity two opera houses cheek by jowl in London is fine; this all demonstrates that it is the Arts Council that lacks credible ideas. The Royal Opera House has absorbed vast amounts of lottery and revenue funding and is ripe for privatisation. It is time that the Arts Council is replaced with a leaner, innovative organisation that can deliver a policy for the arts that ensures equitable distribution of public funds across regions and art forms.

I trust that these points will be take into account and the under representation in terms of public funding for jazz, folk music and brass bands is addressed in any legislation arising from the Culture White Paper.”

Please click on Public Investment in Jazz to read the revised paper