New York radio supports pandemic-hit artists. Why not the BBC?

New York radio supports pandemic-hit artists. Why not the BBC?


norman lebrecht

February 11, 2021

WQXR, New York’s classical music station, has launched a support plans for hard-hit artists and organisations.

It comes in four flavours – grants for local talent; free airtime for nonprofits; a weekly live performance series; and individually tailored ongoing partnerships. Full detais here.

The plan was devised by WQXR’s new Chief Content Officer, Ed Yim, a former VP f the NY Phil.

Nobody at the BBC, Radio 3 or TV, has the imagination to kick-start an initiative for struggling artists.

They’re just sitting tight, protecting their own jobs.



  • Mark Powell says:

    Ed Yim is now, and remains, a TREASURE!

  • Larry says:

    Great to learn about this. Bravo to Ed Yim!

  • anonymous says:

    I’ve said it before on this blog – I’ll say it again. Before the pandemic, I was on trial for jobs with numerous UK orchestras, including BBC orchestras, other regional orchestras with salaried contracts and a self-governing freelance contract orchestra. One of those BBC orchestras is the only performing organisation to have offered me any performing work at all since the start of the pandemic.

    The BBC is offering support to some artists – by employing them in the usual way.

    Oh and by the way, the BBC did offer a loan to freelancers that they had previously engaged back in June 2020.

    Perhaps the BBC could do more to help freelance artists, but please provide balance Norman.

  • Herbie G says:

    The BBC is now fixated on entertainment rather than culture. The facile celebs and their chat show guests are doing very well thank you. Anything that sounds ‘posh’ has been banished for being elitist. Radio 3 is mostly chatter interspresed with a few snippets of excerpts from classical pieces. While Davey remains in place, that’s how it will remain. Orchestras are low in the pecking order. NL is perfectly correct – in fact, if anything, he has understated the case.

  • Duncan says:

    I suspect the BBC does quite a bit to support musicians in these difficult times. The truth is that the Beeb cannot win in such a situation: there will always be those who will complain whichever way decisions are taken. Plus, is WQXR privately funded? If so, can we assume that stakeholders were consulted before decisions were taken? The Beeb is in a very different position, being publicly funded. What grounds or proof do you have for the assertion that ‘nobody at the BBC has the imagination to kick start an initiative’? Just because they have not done so, does not equal lack of initiative. Perhaps something else is holding back the initiatives…

    • Anon says:

      Duncan, all of the BBC Orchestras have been paying their members 80% of their salary. Some of the BBC have produced socially distanced concerts, but basically, nothing for their regular extra players. NL is correct in bringing this to the fore – other self governing orchestras are going to the ground. BBC mentality to exist at all costs.

  • Colin says:

    WQXR is a classical music station and its focus on classical music is understandable but such music is a relatively minor proportion of the BBC’s overall spending.

    Why should the BBC prioritise musicians over actors, for example, or other entertainers? Are they even allowed, under their terms of reference (or Articles of Association, if any) to spend licence-payers’ money on subsidizing freelance artists?

  • Patricia says:

    Since de Blasio has shut down Gnu York CIty, only the protected elite, which has more money than it knows what to do with, will participate. The rest of the population will be shut out.

  • shady says:

    How can WQXR afford such initiatives, when their ad revenue has collapsed over the past year (maybe this is why they’re offering free radio ads, since no performing arts organizations are advertising with them now anyway) and their programmers always speak about the stations’ poverty? Guess they have enough cash to spend on public relations these days.

  • christopher storey says:

    I am no lover of the BBC but what is said at the head of this is just incorrect : what about the Wigmore recitals ? Inaccurate criticism is just a case of crying wolf, and does nothing for the reputation of the critic

  • Norman Krieger says:

    Ed Yim is the embodiment of the word “Mensch”. An elect human being.

  • Anon says:

    Let’s take them in turn. Grants – against the rules that public organisations have to manage public money prudently.

    Free airtime for nonprofits – the BBC is regularly broadcasting nonprofits, and pays them. More generous than the NY scheme.

    Live performances – when it was legal the BBC did it every night. My radio is still broadcasting some of the live performances recorded over the winter.

    Partnerships – have you never heard of the New Generations scheme? Sounds like NY have borrowed the idea from the Beeb.

    Even by the low standards of the Lebrecht war on the Beeb this is a weak article.

  • Daniel says:

    And Classic FM?

    • V.Lind says:

      That was my first thought — it’s the obvious comparative company. The BBC, as pointed out above, has a far greater range of interests to protect than simply musicians. And, as also noted, it has done quite a bit of positive action on that front anyway, including the Wigmore concerts.

      IS Classic FM doing anything?