A wide-ranging consultation is to be undertaken into the future of the Isle of Wight’s Music Education Hub.
A meeting of the council’s Cabinet approved the consultation after hearing that the Department for Education’s (DfE) grant to the hub would be reducing in 2014/2015 and that the council would no longer be in a position to underwrite the year-on-year overspends on the Isle of Wight Music Service (the hub’s major delivery partner and a council service).
The hub is a partnership of many different music groups, with the council’s Isle of Wight Music Service employing the music teachers who work in schools across the Island. The hub is overseen by a board comprising representatives of the member groups (including young people) and has an independent chairman. The council acts as the responsible body for administering the (DfE) grant.
The consultation will be undertaken with the stakeholders of the hub and will take into account the views of hub partner organisations, Island schools, music tuition students and their families and music service staff. The consultation will be carried out via meetings with stakeholders, letters to schools, pupils and those affected – and an email address to which responses can be sent.
The findings of the consultation will allow the development of a new business plan for the hub with a view to a council decision in May on its future position and relationship with the hub for the coming year and beyond.
The hub has been in operation for the past two years and in that time has not been able to develop a sustainable way of doing business, a report to the council’s Cabinet stated.
Following a monitoring visit from Arts Council England in December 2013, it became clear that the Arts Council required a radical review of the hub in relation to meeting its requirements. The Arts Council acts as the grant making body for the Department for Education’s hub funding. The grant for the hub has reduced from £260,000 last year to £136,000 for 2014/2015. Income raised (mainly from parents and families) can amount to £250,000 in a full academic year.
The Isle of Wight Council has had a budget with a nil subsidy for the music service since 2009/2010, but has underwritten overspends on the Isle of Wight Music Service delivery arm, currently running at about £150,000 a year.
In the current financial climate, and against a backdrop of having to find savings of £28 million over the next three years, the council is unable to continue to underwrite these overspends. To help towards creating a sustainable business model for the future, the hub’s board has been working with council officers to develop outline ideas. The outline ideas will form part of the consultation. Any future operation would also need to meet Arts Council and Department for Education targets.
The hub will have the opportunity to bid for a further three years funding in the summer; the plans for a sustainable business model will have to be firm enough to impress the Arts Council by then.
Cabinet member for children’s services, Councillor Richard Priest, said:
“We hope this consultation with stakeholders will help towards the creation and development of a sustainable music hub and music service for the future.
“These are difficult financial times facing the council, but we will be doing our utmost to help the hub develop a model which allows it to operate successfully and with a balanced budget in the future.”
Photo: Isle of Wight Music Centre