There is growing concern in banding communities in South Wales that hundreds of children in some of the most economically deprived areas of Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen, Monmouthshire and Newport will suffer a drastic reduction in their musical education needs.
It follows the news that one of the local authorities is proposing to cut its financial support to Gwent Music Support Services by nearly £300,000 in 2013.
The consultation proposal by Newport City Council follows a cabinet meeting to discuss its medium term financial plan as it seeks to make overall savings of £8.4 million in its 2013/2014 budget.
It is proposed that the cut of £292,000 be made to the non-statutory service, as although the council appreciates its ‘added value’, they state they have to concentrate on funding frontline education for the benefit of all pupils.
The Gwent Music Support Services provides a wide variety of musical needs, including the highly successful Greater Gwent Youth Band and other ensembles, peripatetic tuition and the Greater Gwent Youth Contest held in Cross Keys each year.
In a statement on the council website it says: "We believe the way forward is for GMSS (Gwent Music Support Service) to become self-financing with schools still having the option of subsidising fees or asking parents to contribute."
It goes on to say: "Discussions have been held with the service about the future and it understands it will also have some difficult decisions to make as a result of this reduction in funding but the council is working with the management to explore income opportunities."
The council has given the opportunity for people to have their say in consultation before the cabinet will consider and discuss the responses at its February meeting before making its recommendations to the full council which meets on Tuesday 26th February.
GMSS gave me my step in life. If it wasn't for them I would not have pursued music as my careerGMSS online supporter
A Facebook petition has now been created, with over 830 people already signing up to show support in pressuring the Council to reconsider its proposed action.
One supporter posted: "GMSS gave me my step in life. If it wasn't for them I would not have pursued music as my career," whilst another added, "As a conductor, composer, adjudicator, music educator of almost 40 years' experience in the UK and abroad, I have been consistently impressed by the standards and organisation of Gwent Music ensembles in many locations.
Far from cutting such provision, every city and county council should endeavour to increase the opportunities for more of, even all of the youngsters in its care."