Staff at a ground-breaking music group in Birmingham have been honoured with a national award – at the same time as having their city council funding axed.
Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, founded in 1987 with the support of Sir Simon Rattle, is to receive the biennial Leslie Boosey Award from The Royal Philharmonic Society for the work of its artistic director Stephen Newbould and his wife Jackie, its general manager, for their “outstanding contribution to the furthering of contemporary music in Britain”.
The news was announced after the ensemble learned its Birmingham City Council annual funding of £71,892 was to be pulled completely from 2012, following a 50 per cent funding reduction next year.
A campaign to save the group has seen high-profile names from the classical music world lend their support.
Mr Newbould said that while the organisation receives funding from other sources, including Arts Council England, the withdrawal of the council’s backing could have a “critical impact” on its core work.
He said: “We are very honoured to receive the award. It has come as a complete shock to find out about the funding cut.
“The annual funding underpins a big chunk of our work in bringing the best new music to Birmingham residents and internationally.
“We appreciate the severe pressure that the council is under, but we were prepared for cuts of around 10 per cent, even 20 to 25 per cent, which a number of the larger arts organisations did receive. They seem to have cut a lot of the smaller organisations that are doing particularly creative contemporary, innovative work.”
Birmingham Contemporary Music Group has commissioned more than 140 new works over the past 23 years.
Conductor Oliver Knussen, CBE, BCMG’s Artist-in-Association, said: “I can’t quite believe that the city knows precisely what it is endangering, nor the extent of the potential effect of this devastating cut.”