The threatened attack on the BBC entirely overlooks its central role in British musical culture. It is not just the international importance of the BBC Proms, Radio 3 Next Generation Artists scheme has launched the careers of so many rising performers, and the outstanding BBC orchestras offer young conductors a career path which otherwise would barely exist in England. They also offer more secure employment to musicians than other national orchestras who are all freelance. Additionally the BBC sponsors many competitions which are inseparable from the life and welfare of professional music, such Cardiff Singer of the World, Leeds International Piano Competition, Chorister of the Year, the biennial BBC Young Musician Competition – which has featured Cherubim awardees.
It concerns me greatly that in The Tories’ wish to punish the BBC for exhibiting editorial independence with a prolonged squeeze on its finances, the effect on the arts & music supported by the BBC has been viewed as collateral damage. It has already had a very negative consequence for what was formerly one of the cultural standard bearers of the world. Radio 3 schedules are now threadbare, and serious music programming on TV is a shadow of its former self.
To the world at large, the BBC symbolises all that is best about the British character, with fearless and accurate reporting, the quality of its drama, the authority of its speech programming, the diversity of its music programming, and its commitment to education. How is it possible that a Government which is in name Conservative wishes to destroy an institution which contributes so much to the cultural world both nationally and internationally.
It is particularly regrettable that those who argue for ‘British cultural values’ cannot see the immense harm they are already causing to the image of Britain in the world. It has become tragically evident that no member of the Cabinet either understands or cares for any of these issues in their blind rage to throttle BBC for its alleged partiality – which I would strongly dispute.