ON December 30, I attended the City of Sheffield Youth Orchestra’s winter concert at Ecclesall Parish Church. As usual, the programme was a challenging and enterprising one, and they managed it very well. Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances were given a particularly fine and moving performance.
A week later, some members of the orchestra, with their excellent conductor, Christopher Gayford, were appearing on Look North to explain how much the experience of playing together in an orchestra meant to them, how personally valuable it was.
Why were they on Look North? Because the city council, as part of its current cuts agenda, has withdrawn all funding for the orchestra with immediate effect. That financial support has been vital to the orchestra’s survival over the past 30 years.
What is extraordinary about this cut, which threatens the future of the orchestra, is that the sum involved is, relative to the council’s total budget, ridiculously small - around £20,000. If the cost of, say, renovating The Moor, or reconstructing Tudor Square, overran by £20,000, I doubt that anyone would raise an eyebrow, let alone a query.
With the imposition of student fees and the abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance, young people are already being hit exceptionally hard by the cuts. To destroy the city’s youth orchestra is surely one cut too far. Let the concil think again about this mean-minded decision.