Letters: Arts funding, opera and all that jazz

Letters: The notion of a portfolio of organisations is flawed and appears to have the air of a hedge fund about it

Jazz Services has always said that we are not in the business of robbing Bryn Terfel to pay Courtney Pine, but we did say that the selection of the national portfolio organisations was a missed opportunity to reshape the landscape for the arts (ENO losses reignite the debate on how to share out funding, 17 January). The solution is a national policy for music that is collectively owned by all parties involved. Regrettably the notion of a portfolio of organisations, which on the surface may seem attractive, is flawed and appears to have the air of a hedge fund about it.

All enterprises worth their salt look at "where are we now and where do we want to be?" It then looks at the resources to achieve its goal. An inescapable problem with ENO's financial loss is the wider landscape: 625 yards away is the Royal Opera House. Within less than a quarter of a mile in London there is a concentration of scarce resources of about £46.6m and two opera companies competing for audiences. There will need to be a short-term fix that I trust will not involve cuts in jobs for musicians; then the Department for Culture Media and Sport, with the Arts Council and the stakeholders in the arts – including audiences – need to look long and hard at the arts landscape and develop joined-up policies that deliver funding on equitable terms for the next funding cycle starting in 2016.

Just for the avoidance of doubt, the audience for opera in England is 1.6 million people; for jazz 2.5 million and for classical music 3.3 million. Total Arts Council funding for opera in England in 2012-13 is about £50m, for classical music £18.3m and for jazz £1.35m.
Chris Hodgkins
Director, Jazz Services

The GuardianTramp

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