Cuts to higher education arts funding to go ahead

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The government’s Office for Students has confirmed that the funding cuts to creative and performing arts subjects at high education level will go ahead, despite a plea directly to the prime minister by seven trade unions begging him to reverse the decision.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson will cut the teaching grant, or “T-grant”, by half for students of art and design, music, dance, drama and performing arts, media studies and archaeology and to reprioritise funding towards healthcare, STEM subjects and other specific labour market needs.

The Musicians’ Unions described the decision as catastrophic, saying cuts threaten the “health and accessibility of the entertainment and education sectors, jeopardises the livelihoods of HE and creative workers, and narrows training opportunities” and undermine the successful creative economy while the University of Kent described its response to the decision as one of "frustration and anger".

“This news is frankly the last straw for our members, many of whom have survived without any Government support and barely any work for the past 18 months” said the MU’s deputy general secretary Naomi Pohl, pictured above. “Since we heard about these proposed cuts, there has been an enormous outpouring of fury and disappointment from our members and the wider music community.

“Musicians are highly skilled, resilient, creative and community-minded. Their work generates billions for the UK economy, and they contribute in infinite ways to our cultural life, health and wellbeing.

“We must ensure that the talent pipeline doesn’t dry up. Closing opportunities to learn music is short-sighted, and at the end of the day we’ll all suffer.”

At the University of Kent Prof Simon Kirchin, co-director of arts and humanities, and Prof Catherine Richardson, director to the Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries, said in a joint statement: "We read the government's announcement with disappointment, frustration and anger. The arts are, and will remain, an important part of the university’s teaching and our cultural life.  We have invested heavily in our academic provision across many years, most recently through our establishment of the Institute of Cultural and Creative Industries, and we are fully committed to ensuring that our region continues to grow as an artistic and creative hub for the benefit of all.  

"The creative industries contributed £116bn in GVA in 2019 and supports 1 in every 16 jobs.  That’s a success that is built upon a world-leading national arts education that trains creative, entrepreneurial graduates. We need to maintain the talent pipeline to secure our world-leading position in this sector – it’s an area the government should be building up and diversifying, rather than cutting back." 


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