You have 48 hours to avert a 50% cut in university arts teaching

You have 48 hours to avert a 50% cut in university arts teaching


norman lebrecht

May 05, 2021

Your voice is required now to stop the Government halving funds for arts teaching in UK universities next year.

There is a public consultation here, and it ends tomorrow.

Make your voice heard … and share with your friends.


The Office for Students has published its university funding plans for next year, which include cutting funding for courses in performing and creative arts in half. The creative arts sector has already been decimated by the pandemic, receiving very little government support despite its importance to our economy and our international stature. Just last year Minister for the Creative Industries, Nigel Adams noted that the creative industries contributed nearly £13 million pounds to the national economy every hour. To cut off the supply of future creative professionals would be a tragic false economy.


The Office for Students is currently running a consultation on their funding proposals for 2021-2022, including the plan to slash funding for arts courses. This consultation closes this Thursday May 6. 



  • John Borstlap says:


    The economic argument is entirely unnecessary and the national stature of a culture nation should be enough. Economic benefits of th earts are a bonus. Every pound spent on the arts is already its own reward.

    But well….

    • Ellingtonia says:

      “The economic argument is entirely unnecessary” tell that to the miners, engineers, steel workers, factory workers, car workers, retail workers who have all lost jobs because of economic downturns. I have read some of your bullshit in my time here but this takes the biscuit. Musicians and artists have to make a living by bringing in the audiences to pay cash, if they don’t then tough luck. They are not a “protected species”.

      • Bill says:

        Your comment perfectly illustrates why a well rounded education that encourages critical thinking is still necessary. Too bad you weren’t in class those days.

        • Ellingtonia says:

          Please explain to me what is wrong with my “critical thinking”.
          I worked for 52 years and during that time was made redundant four times, so I got off my arse and went out and found another job. I was taught from a very early age that “no one owes you a living, you have to earn it”. However, it would seem that musicians and composers are deemed “superior” to us poor plebs, we who get up, go to work, ensure the education and health services function, shops are well stocked and enable the public to feed themselves. The farmers who graft away to provide the food we need, the oil workers who risk their lives to provide fuel and not least the care workers who look after those who cannot look after themselves.
          So please explain to me Bill what makes musicians and composers more worthy of value in society than all of those I have listed ?
          Perhaps if you climbed down from that academic cloud of yours and applied both critical analysis and thinking about your own comments you might experience what I think is called “the lightbulb moment”!

      • John Borstlap says:

        I know, it’s all very difficult, isn’t it?

        But all beginning is hard. Let me explain:

        Classical music is an art form.

        Classical music (like all arts) – in its best forms – tries to reflect life experience in a stylized way. It is not a luxury, but a spiritual stimulation, and providing psychological energy, confirming inner experience of Self. Even, some of the best works reflect something of the order of the universe, not in abstracto but in a way that can be experienced directly, emotionally (this is what Beethoven meant when he said that music was a higher revelation than philosophy).

        So, it is a common good, for all of humanity, and an expression of the human condition and of the best of our civilisation, accessible for everyone with the openness and the willingness to be seduced by its mysteries. Audiences pay for a ticket, sponsors and (if in Europe) governments fill-out the budget, because it is difficult to get concerts properly organized. Musicians have to be paid, otherwise we have no music at all. The benefit is for the audience, so any additional economic benefits like restaurant visits, using public transportation, buying appropriate clothing, etc. etc. can be added-up to the fundamental benefit but not necessarily so.

        In WW II hungry and traumatized people scrambled along the ruins of their bombed cities to a cold concert hall, where musicians with freezing fingers played as best as they could, and for packed auditoriums because there was a very strong need to feel for an hour or so what it is to be human. In a spoiled society where life is entirely materialistic and empty, such things are totally incomprehensible. So be it…. until some type of bad experience hit the hard wall which has been built around an underdeveloped heart. And maybe some light may peep through the cracks.

        My PA shakes her head in disbelief, because she has been too happy in her life (not here I haste to say), but all of this is still true, since truth reveals itself in experience and not in argument.

        So: my advice is: just wait for what may happen in your life.

        • Ellingtonia says:

          “I know, it’s all very difficult, isn’t it for you Mr Borstlap

          But all beginning is hard. Let me explain:

          Classical music is an art form.”……… it isn’t, its entertainment, I know it is difficult for you to comprehend this, but I put this down to your protected upbringing and lack of understanding and empathy for the real world. Your analogy of the people flocking to hear “concerts” in the second world war implies it was only classical music people were going to hear, ever hear of Vera Lynn and just think if Led Zeppelin had been around what a performance of Kashmir would have done to raise the spirits? Eventually, a degree of common sense will set in to that “tunnel brain” of yours and you will come to appreciate that classical music, jazz, folk music, rock are all part of the same entertainment industry……..I will pause slightly here to let to pick yourself up and digest that. As I said in my original posting, I have read numerous pieces of intellectual bullshit from you over the years, but I guess being a failed composer leaves a sense of bitterness in your mouth at not being amongst those you consider “elite”. Welcome to the real world!

      • Tamino says:

        The development of the human spirit, the self actualization of mankind toward higher levels, does not work under the material rule book of capitalism. Never has. Never will.
        Indeed artists must make a living. But any society that is striving to develop in a humane way, owes their artists schemes, how they can do so, if they are good enough.
        Any society that only pays for the immediate material market value, is a deeply backward and “mindless” one.

  • Miko says:

    Why do you vote Tory then,
    Mr Lebrecht? Is it all a game?

  • Bill says:

    Well, Johnson has to get all of that promised Brexit funding for NHS from somewhere.

  • Marfisa says:

    Does this apply to music conservatoires and art colleges, or only to universities? If only to universities, I would think that cutting funding altogether would delight some SD readers, to judge from the comments on other academia-related posts.

    • Bill says:

      It looks like the UK is headed in the direction of the US; universities are becoming nothing more than glorified trade school degree mills. Nothing wrong with a trade school, they’re quite necessary and fill an important educational role, but the idea of a university is to encourage critical thinking and provide a well rounded education. I’d say the trade school model is at least being more honest than today’s Universities about what it is they’re doing.

      • John Borstlap says:

        I will always be grateful for the drastic and high-level training I got at Cambridge and it would be totally crazy to sacrifice such educational offerings for financial reasons. In scarce times, education should be funded MORE not less, it should be an investment like Roosevelt’s two New Deals.

      • rita says:

        Bravo, well said!

  • It’s time we got rid of all those worthless artists. What have Chaucer, Shakespeare, Orwell, Austin, Byron, Wordsworth, Shelly, Blake, Lewis Carroll, the Bronte sisters, Milton, D.H. Lawrence, George Eliot, Hardy, Huxley, Tennyson, Donne, Wilfred Owen, Marlowe, Samuel Johnson, Pope, Browning, Ruskin, Coleridge, Auden, Defoe, Pinter, Golding, and Larkin ever done for the UK?

    To say nothing of useless people like Elgar, Vaughn Williams, Britten, Handel, Purcell, Delius, Holst, Birtwistle, Walton, Sullivan, Knussen, and Tippet. Defund them!

  • Greg Bottini says:

    “Your voice is required now to stop the Government halving funds for arts teaching in UK universities next year.”
    You’re living in a fantasy world, Norman. Since when does any government listen to the voices of its citizens (except when they are absurdly rich campaign contributors)?

    • Saxon says:


      First, Europe does not have the kind of corrupt campaign contributions that the US has, so campaign finance has almost no influence on the policy platform of political parties.

      Second, in democracies, parties care very much about what their citizens think since if they did not then they would not get elected to office.

      The issue is that much of what particular citizens want (such as more arts funding) does not have widespread support from the public. If it did then government would provide more funding.

  • Christine says:

    Don’t forget to vote today! Local government elections are treated like a referendum on the sitting government. Flex some political muscle.

  • Paul Brownsey says:

    “Your voice is required now to stop the Government halving funds for arts teaching in UK universities next year.”

    “UK universities” is wrong. This is about ENGLISH universities. England and the UK are not identical. Failure to distinguish them feeds nationalism in other aprts of the UK.

    • Maria says:

      I can never understand why people cannot see or even try to see the difference between England and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. I remember friends once saying they were coming to England for their holidays. Dug a bit deeper, and it transpired it was Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland! But then Londoners don’t understand anything that is north of Watford as being anything but ‘up north! I sdoeak as a Londoner as well living in Yorkshire. They’ve been to the south of France, or been to America aka New York, a house in Spain but never been to Cheshire!

      • John Borstlap says:

        The UK is the UK for people living in the UK, but for foreigners the UK is England, for historical reasons.

  • John Borstlap says:

    In the West, populism and relativism are gnawing at the fundaments of its civilization, in an attempt to socially engineer equality where it is impossible. Humanity is structurally inequal. Efforts should be directed to fair accessibility, not to equalizing.

    The influence of ‘philosophers’ like Bourdieu, Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard, whose writings began to infiltrate universities throughout the Western world in the eighties, settled in the minds of the then gullible students. When they became adults and got into positions of influence, they could drip the nonsense into a much wider field than the philosophers, and now we see the results: suicidal idiocy born from confused ‘thinking’.