“an unhealthy attitude towards classical music from the very institutions that are supposed to champion the cause”

Neil Franks, Chairman of Petworth Festival and a passionate supporter of music and musicians, has written this response to Ben Lawrence’s article which appeared in The Telegraph on 8 March.

Ben Lawrence’s article about the very unfortunate cuts the BBC have announced highlights the very unhealthy attitude towards classical music that has developed from the very institutions that are supposed to champion the cause and give it a boost, not pour cold water on it.

BBC Singers

Classical music continues to be the sacrificial lamb that bureaucrats and politicians seem to take pleasure in slaughtering and then displaying what they think are their heroic and triumphant achievements in saving money

Culture, and especially music has already been viciously cut from the school curriculum – again for the same reason: an easy target

The more our population, especially the young, see these cuts happening, the more music disappears from the radar screen and the more their pre-conceived impression that the subject is old-fashioned and boring is somehow validated, so the damage is dramatically magnified and perpetuated for future generations which also means dramatically increasing the cost of the inevitable need to revive it in the future. In other words, this is a false economy let alone fundamentally damaging to the essential component of our lives – culture!

What next – are our cultural administrators going to pack up all the grand masters in our art galleries, wrap them all up in boxes and put them in the basement so they can use the galleries as gaming zones and burger cafes?

Come on everyone – let’s shout from the rooftops about classical music and make it MORE accessible in an inspired way – it’s not rocket science.

The enormous efforts made by talented, dedicated musicians to become what they are is already a huge sacrifice on their part. They know that their future earnings after years of commitment involved in learning and perfecting their craft, is often pretty limited and too many are discouraged and end up competing for other jobs. This latest news will just add to that discouragement

The fashionable term “levelling up” can be put to very constructive use with musicians. Encourage them to succeed and send them all around the country to festivals, regional venues, schools etc etc to expose everyone to their great talents. The very thought of closing down one of the worlds most important cultural institutions, ENO, and thinking that the solution is packing them off somewhere else is not practical. Of course the whole country deserves their product, but that’s not a practical way of making it happen. Capitalise on its value where it is

Please please please could we re-think this very damaging action and encourage human passion, culture and talent instead of destroying it!

Reinventing the Salon Concert

Petworth Festival 2023