Four classical stars report on talks with UK Government

Four classical stars report on talks with UK Government


norman lebrecht

June 21, 2020

All four classical musicians who had discussions with the UK Government on Thursday have issued identical reports. Here’s Sheku’s:

Alison Balsom OBE, Nicola Benedetti (pic), Sir Simon Rattle and I were invited, at short notice, to join a virtual meeting yesterday about the future of the music industry by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden.
We have all had innumerable conversations with many people across the sector and what we put across was a shared sentiment and rallying cry on behalf of the classical music industry. We want to share what was said in order to invite more dialogue and communication. We all know we are stronger when we work together. We are very grateful to have been offered the chance to speak directly with DCMS and trust our voices have been heard. The ball is now firmly in the DCMS court and we all eagerly await a response.

This is a summary of what we said (click here).

UPDATE: Is the UK Government finally listening?


  • Martin says:

    The link to the summary of what‘ the four’ said takes you to Shaku Masons Facebook page???!

    • V.Lind says:

      Sounds as if you, like me, refuse to join Facebook. You can read it — where the pop-up invites you to join up to read more, there is a tiny option at the bottom saying “not now” or some such. Click that and it goes, and then scroll down a few posts till you see the one NL refers us to. Click on the first (shrunk) page and it emerges with readable text and right arrows to read through.

      Once you have done that, let me know if you learned anything. I found it full of the usual, a reasonably eloquent plea by four highly-regarded musicians, high on platitudes and low on specifics. But a few general suggestions, much on line with what a lot of people seem to be doing already.

      There seems to be a low-octane (probably the best approach) plea for greater funding in general, but I suspect Mr. Dowden will have a hard time pleading his cause in that cabinet, even after a reshuffle in September. It will be fairly correctly pointed out that the UK has incurred massive debt due to the pandemic, that major and small businesses that are the engines of economic recovery are reeling and in some cases fatally damaged, and that health and social services will desperately need o be supported well beyond the official declaration that the pandemic has passed.

      So musicians and other artists will have to take their place in the queue, and I suspect it will be near the back. All this innovativeness and imagination and agility of which the text speaks will have to stay in place perhaps longer than they hope.

      But even the Tory cabinet will not like the thought of closed theatres. Aside from anything else, they draw tourists, whose return will be another contribution to economic recovery. Once social distancing is withdrawn — which may take a long time, and affects theatres more than other businesses — it is to be hoped that all this agility, etc. will remain.

  • Mathias Broucek says:

    Love the way governments always drag in celebs. Those four are terrific kudos but aren’t exactly typical representatives of the profession….

  • MDR says:

    Why these four in particular? Have they, aside from Sir Simon, much experience managing large ensemble concerts? Or were they simply furthest up the Classic FM charts?

    • Mathias Broucek says:

      Agreed – this exactly! Again with the exception of Sir Simon they are all also quite young and therefore will have less life experience to draw on… Do they remember anything about previous recessions, for example?

  • Paul Sullivan says:

    If you scroll down a bit on Mr. Shaku Mason’s FB page you will see the his post about and a summary of the meeting.

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    The assumption that EVERYBODY in the world has a Facebook page is, for this old digiphobe, one of the most frustrating and annoying aspects of modern life. If they want to ‘share what was said’ why not use a medium that is accessible by more than just digital ‘friends’?

    • V.Lind says:

      Fair enough you don’t want to use FB — I absolutely do not (nor Twatter nor Instagram or any of the others) but I explain to you above how to read this. NL does nto usually link to FB if it is not open text.