The last time I discussed cultural policy with the man who is now Mayor of London, he turned up late on his bike and I paid for the wine. Tonight, he’s in the chair, but still soaking up the kudos.
What Boris Johnson is announcing is a new fund to boost music lessons for children in London. There will be £2 million ($3m) in the kitty by next year and a host of worthies, some nominated by me, to make sure the money is wisely spent. Nothing of the kind has been attempted before in this country. Boris, not always the straightest face in the mugshots, is sold on the idea of elevating children through exposure to the arts.
Here’s what some of the good guys are saying about it.
“The launch of MFYM is something quite wonderful. It shows a trust in the power and value of great music, and a trust in the young people who will benefit from this scheme, joining excellence and the highest standards with the widest possible access. Applause all round!” Stephen Hough, pianist and MFYM Patron
“This wonderful initiative has arrived not a day too soon. At last a chance for young people with a curiosity for music to really have an opportunity to try their hand and realise a creativity previously reserved for others more financially fortunate than themselves.” Chi-chi Nwanoku, Double Bass player and MFYM Patron
I fully support the Mayor’s Fund for Young Musicians and recognise that implemented responsibly it will improve access to music making at the highest level for all children in all genres. This in my mind is as it should be and will enrich their lives and all of ours, now and in the future. Julian Joseph, Jazz pianist and MFYM Patron
Music can transform a child’s life in so many ways. A child singing to him or herself is a happy child. The benefits of studying music – emotional, social and intellectual – are well documented. The Mayor’s Fund for Young Musicians will encourage as many children as possible to tap into those benefits, and to follow their musical dreams. Steven Isserlis, cellist and MFYM Patron