Official: BBC Singers are saved

Official: BBC Singers are saved


norman lebrecht

March 24, 2023

The BBC issued the following semi-equivocal statement at 0930 this morning:

BBC Statement: Alternative funding solution for the BBC Singers

The BBC has received approaches from a number of organisations offering alternative funding models for the BBC Singers. We have agreed with the Musicians’ Union that we will suspend the proposal to close the BBC Singers, while we actively explore these options. If viable, these alternative options would secure the future of the ensemble.

We can also confirm the Singers will appear in this year’s BBC Proms.

We know that the BBC Singers are much loved across the classical community and their professionalism, quality and standing has never been in question. We have said throughout these were difficult decisions. Therefore, we want to fully explore the options that have been brought to us to see if there is another way forward. The BBC still needs to make savings and still plans to invest more widely in the future of choral singing across the UK.

The BBC, as the biggest commissioner of music and one of the biggest employers of musicians in the country, recognises it has a vital role to play in supporting orchestral and choral music.

We will continue to engage with the Musicians’ Union and the other BBC Unions about our proposals on the BBC’s English Orchestras. We are committed to meaningful consultation and to avoiding compulsory redundancies, wherever possible.

UPDATE: Jobs that are hanging by a thread


  • Alexander Hall says:

    Heads at the BBC should roll not only for the stupidity of the original decision but also for putting the BBC Singers through so much pain and anguish.

    • soavemusica says:

      “The BBC still needs to make savings and still plans to invest more widely in the future of choral singing across the UK.”

      Could it be that

      1) The BBC singers are more valuable than one football commentator – and cost the same…

      2) The Executives of the BBC are not worth a penny

      3) Why shouldn`t the licence fee go, if the culture goes?

      “We should have more classical music, and less Gary Lineker”:

      • Eowyn says:

        Gary lineker is paid less than he would be at a rival network and millions love and watch match of the day, that may be the very reason they are happy to pay the license fee. If he is fired the cuts also do not stop because his salary is not the reason for the cuts (a drop in the ocean, they did not even cost for example what cutting the bbc singers would save) austerity cut bbc funding by 30 percent! Not only rhat but the model pf the bbc was changed to weirdly introduce forced commisioning outside of the bbc and shrink the bbc itself (to rely on the fabled ‘market forces’ to deliver). Then the license fee was frozen. That means every service in the bbc becomes smaller and worse. And yes, you don’t love everything that the bbc does, but other people do love those programmes, so you save mine but cut yours is just a reverse match of the day. Please, write to your mp to reduce the cost pressures on the bbc, I’d be happy to pay a higher licence fee to save it. I’m sure you would too.

    • Dargomyzhsky says:

      The noises about ‘alternative funding’ are still pretty ominous. Unfortunately our authoritarian government has declared all-out war on the BBC, which is currently rather successful.

    • Gustavo says:

      Great art comes from loss and pain.

  • Dave says:

    For the time being.

    And what of the orchestra cuts?

  • Rosie says:

    Not saved yet.

  • Celso Antunes says:

    What a shambles!!! At least, it looks like this disastrous ban has been avoided…

  • Mystic Chord says:

    Let’s leave Lineker out of this argument, of course he actually has nothing to do with it. His salary isn’t remotely connected to why the Singers were initially retired, as informed readers here will appreciate. Whether you think his contract makes good commercial sense is an entirely different matter.

    • soavemusica says:

      What a relief to know that licence fees do not pay Lineker`s million, while at the same time…Oh, wait…

  • Dimsky says:

    “…avoiding compulsory redundancies…” That’s an ominous sounding directive….

  • Ñame says:

    Don’t get complacent, putting the Singers in the hands of private investment will only serve to double the need to cut them in a few years, once the investors can turn around and claim lack of dividends from their shares.

    Privatising the BBC ensembles will either turn them into bland, pop music machines, or give the heads excuses to cut them for purely financial reasons.

    They’re not being saved, but rather their elimination is being drawn out. Don’t let Webb/Moore/Davies off the hook yet.

    • OneForAll says:

      I think commercial privatisation is extremely unlikely, the more common model for UK arts ensembles is charity/trust based..

  • OneForAll says:

    We absolutely no need to fight for the orchestras in the same way, and categorically, make sure it doesn’t become us, versus them in terms of singers versus orchestras! It’s wonderful news. Let’s hope it’s not just a short term stay of execution until after the Proms. We need to make sure we keep up the pressure.

  • Guest Conductor says:

    Wonderful news! Did they sack that punter footie talking head who was making like 1.5 million a year to save the singers?

  • Unvaccinated says:

    Funding? There is already funding, its called the licence fee and the BBC is also funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation amongst others. Does anyone smell something?

  • Peter San Diego says:

    “Therefore, we want to fully explore the options that have been brought to us to see if there is another way forward.”

    Of course, it never occurred to them to explore alternatives in the first place, rather than simply announce their planned demise…

  • Tony Sanderson says:

    This has been a great campaign. But obviously the fight needs to go on.

    Surely there needs to a wider ranging discussion about what the BBC is for. I read alsewhere that groups like the BBC Singers are an important part of the BBC’s mission.

    So it is not unreasonable that the large salaries paid to football commentators are called into question is what the BBC is for. They want to attract top talent of course, but should this be a priority?

    Should the BBC allow ethical edvertising like broadcasters like ABC or SBS in Australia or BBC Worldwide? Is it time to address this issue again?

    Time for a wider ranging discussion about the BBC.

  • Malcolm Archer says:

    The BBC say they are ‘committed to meaningful consultation’. What a pity that consultation did not happen before announcing the cuts.
    The BBC Singers have a reprieve which is good news. Now the corporation needs to firmly secure its future and the future of the BBC orchestras.

  • Tim says:

    It was likely never considered because the BBC never envisioned a private party wanting to pour millions down a sinkhole, no matter how highbrow it might be.

  • Madeleine Richardson says:

    That bunch of Philistines at the BBC should be sent packing. Not everyone in Britain is glued to the likes of Strictly Come Dancing or East Enders.