The other day I noticed an article in the Guardian, “Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra brought back to life after 66 years”. The Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra has been revived seventy-four years after it was first formed. The Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra has been revived to support musicians in northern England hit by the pandemic. A few idle thoughts crossed my mind the first was what are the respective populations of Greater London and Yorkshire and secondly how many symphony orchestras are there in London as compared to none in Yorkshire – I have excluded opera.
The population of Yorkshire, the largest county in England with total population of over 5.4 million people, larger than the population of Scotland. (According to 2019 data published by the Office for National Statistics). Yorkshire also has a bigger population than many other countries, such as Norway, New Zealand, Uruguay and the Republic of Ireland.
Greater London has a population of 8,899,375 (Office for National Statistics)
Set out below are the orchestras funded by Arts Council England and their National Portfolio Grants in 2022
|Orchestra||Grant in 2022|
|London Philharmonic Orchestra||£8,168,888|
|London Symphony Orchestra||£8,824,200|
|Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment||£815,616|
|Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Ltd||£3,785,576|
|Sinfonietta Productions Limited||£1,998,260|
Taking Part Survey data for 2015/16 for attendance at a classical music concert in the past 12 months had Greater London had 11.7% of respondents attending and Yorkshire and Humberside 5.7% of respondents attending. The average attendance in England is 7.6%.
This situation is hardly a level playing field; in fact it is no playing field at all. The problem is that Arts Council England has no art form policies in which to guide the distribution of funding.
Until the Arts Council has a workable national plan for the arts with art form policies inequitable distribution of funding will continue. Its latest strategy “Let’s Get Creative” moves further away from accountability by art form. Please see – Response to Let’s Create Arts Council Englands Strategy 2020-2030