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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 January 2008, 16:38 GMT
Brassed off musicians want funds
Brass band
Brass bands are given lower grants than opera and ballet
Brass band members have been lobbying Culture Minister Margaret Hodge over what they see as inadequate funding.

The musicians hope the government will provide more cash, ensuring the survival of such bands.

Barnsley East and Mexborough MP, Jeff Ennis claims that for every £1 given to brass bands, opera receives £1,113.

The Arts Council, which awarded more than £187,000 to brass bands last year, said it was "keen to further develop" its support.

Mr Ennis, who hails from Grimethorpe, home of the famous colliery brass band named after the town, claims the bands are underfunded when compared to other branches of the arts.

These bands help to meet a lot of government targets like social cohesion and I think they are undervalued and underappreciated
Jeff Ennis MP

In the last five years, grants body, Arts Council England has given £987,000 to brass bands.

During the same period, funding for opera totalled nearly £160m. In addition, the Royal Opera House was given more than £116m to promote ballet and opera.

Mr Ennis told the BBC News website: "The purpose of the meeting is to raise awareness of the lack of funding and show the minister what the situation is like.

"These bands help to meet a lot of government targets like social cohesion and I think they are undervalued and underappreciated.

Expensive instruments

John Bray, secretary of Newport Borough Brass Band, joined the delegation at Westminster.

"It's not fair but it is true. Brass bands do not receive enough funding, especially when compared with opera and ballet
Peter Bray, Newport Borough Brass Band

"The delegates with me today are from all over the country including Yorkshire, Ascot and South Wales which shows the extent to which brass bands form an important part of British heritage," he said.

"I got involved about six-and-a-half-years ago after my son and daughter became members of the band.

"It's not fair but it is true. Brass bands do not receive enough funding, especially when compared with opera and ballet.

"We need more money for the youth bands and for conductor training. The instruments are expensive and the bands provide these and tuition too. Brass bands are still popular and do a lot for society. It is an activity open to all."

"I don't know for certain but those working in arts associated with the upper echelons of society appear to receive much more funding than brass bands."

A spokeswoman from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: "Funding decisions for individual companies are strictly a matter for the Arts Council for England.

"However, we have enormous admiration for brass bands and the musical heritage they represent."

In a statement, Arts Council England said: "In 2006/7 we awarded more than £187,000 of lottery money directly to bands in England through our Grants for the Arts scheme, including £25,000 in Yorkshire."

SEE ALSO
Brassed-off band feel pushed out
08 Dec 07 |  South West Wales
Brothers' battle of brass bands
21 Oct 07 |  South East Wales
Colliery band digs deep for prize
21 Oct 07 |  West Yorkshire

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