Britain's instruments of economic success

The Government has pledged to put more money into music education. Natalie Wheen reports

Chris Smith, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, has pledged his commitment to find more money to support music education in schools - on the grounds that it will benefit UK plc.

Speaking off-the-cuff at the Gramophone Awards dinner recently, his comments caused a stir among music professionals, who have long lobbied for a restoration of instrument teaching, decimated by education cuts.

Initial discussions with Education Secretary David Blunkett are expected to lead to the formation of a Schools Music Trust, which will lobby for funds from the National Lottery's New Opportunities Fund when that becomes operational next year. Leading lights from the cultural industries will be invited to spearhead the drive for matching funds from the private sector: likely names range from those of the major orchestras to Lord Lloyd-Webber and Sir Paul McCartney.

Those names suggest that while the classical side of the industry might hope that the Trust will help more young players to work in the heritage music business, the real thrust will be in filling the talent pool for rock and pop.

Top British stars surveyed by the current issue of Business Age magazine show David Bowie at the top of the wealth league with pounds 550m, while the youngest Spice Girl, "Baby" Spice, has pounds 14.5m at only 20. By putting the spotlight on music provision in schools, Mr Smith and Mr Blunkett are officially backing an effective pathway to motivate non-academic and disaffected students with popular idioms that are often ignored by educationalists.

This interest in school music falls within the Labour Government's wider thrust to promote British culture as essential to the nation's economic health. It is already one of the largest sectors, generating some pounds 50bn annually in turnover.

Inward tourism, attracted by theatres, museums, galleries and music, makes culture the third-largest earner of foreign currency. The 1991 census revealed that jobs in the cultural sector expanded 34 per cent in the 1980s, while jobs overall grew a mere 4.6 per cent.

Mr Smith has put together a Creative Industries Task Force, which will assess the needs of "UK Culture plc" in terms of new government policy, as well as identifying ways to maximise the economic impact of the culture industry.

"I envisage that the task force will carry out a rolling programme of studies dealing with different issues concerning the creative industries, and so provide a continuous stream of analysis and recommendations," said Mr Smith after chairing its first meeting on 8 October.

He was joined by ministers from key departments, including the Treasury, trade and industry, education and employment and the Cabinet Office. This will ensure cross-department co-operation with Mr Blunkett on such matters as the schools music initiative. Luminaries such as David Puttnam, Richard Branson, designer Paul Smith, Waheed Ali of maverick TV production house Planet 24 and others should earn the task force a welcome in those parts of the industry neglected by more traditional approaches to the role of the arts in society.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there