Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Save the Ulster Orchestra - BBC - A Question of Equality

George Bain: "The reason that we are in grave financial difficulties is again quite simple.  Like most arts organisations, our two main income streams are from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, on the one hand, and, secondly, the BBC pays us — that is partly BBC Northern Ireland and partly Radio 3 — for the music that we supply to it.  Over the last four years the funding from both those sources has declined by 28%, which is roughly £1 million in real terms.  For an organisation that was underfunded and under-resourced — neither the players nor the staff have had a pay rise since 2008, and the orchestra has not been able to tour for 10 years, long before the cuts came — it simply means that we are not viable."

John Myerscough produced a report in 1912 into BBC's Performing Groups- London (2), Manchester, Cardiff and Glasgow. [link to report included in BBC article].

The Ulster Orchestra has a different funding structure to these Performing Groups but could it be getting a fairer share of licence payers' money?

Kevin Magee has produced some figures: UO costs £4.5m/yr; BBC gives £0.64m. According to that 2012 Myerscough report, a BBC orchestra costs about £6.1m of which the BBC contributes about £5.2m. Arts Council Wales contributes £0.8m.

In other words, for every £1 the BBC licence payers contribute to the BBC's performing groups, they contribute 13p to the Ulster Orchestra.