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Brass bands benefit from Culture Recovery Fund

Friday 2 April, 2021

The brass band scene in England is to receive a major funding boost, after several organisations were awarded tens of thousands of pounds of support to help them navigate their way through the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brighouse and Rastrick Band has been awarded £68,600 while Black Dyke Band will receive £38,040. Brass Bands England has been awarded £43,136 and Grimethorpe Colliery Band is to benefit from £47,515. Kapitol Promotions Ltd, which runs the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain, will receive £50,000.

Also among the organisations benefiting from the funding is SATCoL Ltd, which owns World of Brass, World of Sound, SP&S and Studio Music; it will receive £87,976. The Royal Northern College of Music, meanwhile, will receive £133,033.

More than £300 million has been awarded to thousands of cultural organisations across the country in the latest round of support from the Culture Recovery Fund, announced on April 2.

Brass Bands England, originally formed in 1968 and based in South Yorkshire, is the Arts Council England’s sector support organisation for brass bands. It serves 427 member organisations, encompassing over 550 individual bands and 18,000 individuals. Included in BBE’s wide-ranging services are its BandSafe safeguarding training scheme, product discounts, and seminars on band governance and artistic development. During 2020-21, Brass Bands England has worked closely with the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in providing detailed advice and risk assessments throughout COVID-19.

For BBE, the award will support the continuation of its recently launched Brass Foundations project, which has seen the appointment of youth development brass specialists in five areas of England. These specialists have been brokering vital links between education, music hubs and community bands. The funding will also contribute to further development of BBE’s website as an information hub for both member bands and the wider sector. Further plans include enhanced resource content for members, continuation of the Brass Band Archive project, and the return to office activity post-pandemic.

Mike Kilroy, BBE chairman, said: “These are challenging and uncertain times for everyone in the arts community, so we are very thankful that brass bands have been recognised by this award from the Culture Recovery Fund. This will provide resources for the continuation of our Brass Foundations project, which is already paying dividends in bringing together local education authority music hubs and community brass bands. This work is also key in areas of equality, diversity and inclusion, on which the foundations of brass bands will be built as we work towards a successful and sustainable future.”

With its funding award, Black Dyke Band intends to gradually welcome back players back to rehearsals in the bandroom in small groups, COVID restrictions permitting. Once the band is able to rehearse and perform again as a complete ensemble the funding will permit the band to be able to record a series of concerts to be streamed over the internet.

In the summer, Black Dyke will look to hire a number of outdoor venues, where social distancing can be effectively employed, in order to deliver a series of concerts to the public free of charge. As part of these concerts the band will also be looking to support the return to live music of local community bands by inviting them to join Black Dyke in action.

Black Dyke’s director of music, Professor Nicholas Childs said: “In these challenging times we must create an environment where brass bands can flourish again, firstly finding a route with confidence. That includes performing in outdoor spaces like the iconic bandstands, sharing the platform with community bands and creating a Pathway to Performance for the wider brass banding fraternity while allowing band enthusiasts to rub shoulders with champions to experience the thrill of a live brass band.”

More than £800 million in grants and loans has already been awarded to support almost 3,800 cinemas, performance venues, museums, heritage sites and other cultural organisations dealing with the immediate challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

The second round of awards made today will help organisations to look ahead to the spring and summer and plan for reopening and recovery. After months of closures and cancellations to contain the virus and save lives, this funding will be a much-needed helping hand for organisations transitioning back to normal in the months ahead.

Culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, said: “Our record-breaking Culture Recovery Fund has already helped thousands of culture and heritage organisations across the country survive the biggest crisis they've ever faced.

Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back through their doors - helping our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in the better times ahead."

The latest funding is from a £400 million pot which was held back last year to ensure the Culture Recovery Fund could continue to help organisations in need as the public health picture changed. The funding has been awarded by Arts Council England, as well as Historic England and National Lottery Heritage Fund and the British Film Institute.