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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 April, 2004, 06:24 GMT 07:24 UK
Funding cut for music tuition
Catrin Finch
Harpist Catrin Finch has criticised the budget cut
A Welsh Assembly Government decision to reduce funding for music tuition in schools in Wales has been criticised.

The Music Development Fund is facing a 30% reduction in its budget this year.

The Prince of Wales' official harpist, Catrin Finch, has told BBC Wales' Taro Naw programme, that every child should be able to learn a musical instrument.

The Welsh Assembly Government said it is up to individual local authorities to decide how they spend the total funding made available to them.

The Music Development Fund was set up in 1999, to pay for extra-curricular music activities, including instrument lessons for pupils who could not afford them and music therapy for children with special needs.

Also included in the fund was rock and pop tuition to encourage pupils who might not otherwise be interested in academic studies.

When people come up to you after a performance and tell you what they have got out of it, it makes everything worthwhile
Catrin Finch
But during this financial year, the fund is being cut by more than 30% - from 3m to 1.9m.

There are also fears that the entire fund will be cut in 2005.

Ms Finch, 23, who is originally from Llanon, near Aberystwyth, said she was very disappointed that the fund was being cut in Wales "of all places".

"Music is so important for children," she added.

"It's vital that every child has the chance to learn an instrument.

"I had so much help from Ceredigion council. My parents could not have afforded all the tuition I had and everybody deserves that chance."

In Scotland, its parliament has announced 17.5m in additional funding to ensure that every child in primary schools there has the chance to learn an instrument.

"By now I have had wonderful experiences through music and have met people all over the world," said Ms Finch.

"When people come up to you after a performance and tell you what they have got out of it, it makes everything worthwhile."

In a statement the Welsh assembly government said local authorities had received a "good" settlement of nearly 3.2bn from them for 2004-05 - and it was up to them to decide how to spend it.

"Since 1999 a specific Music Development Fund has provided funding for music activities outside of formal schooling," it read.

"Over the last three years over 9m has been provided for the Music Development Fund.

"1.9m has been earmarked for 2004-05.

"However, as the Music Development Fund is now included in the Better Schools Fund programme, local authorities this year will have the flexibility to move money into different activities to target what they regard as their priority areas."

Taro Naw will be broadcast on Tuesday at 2025 BST on S4C.

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