Brass Bands England’s future secured with funding uplift | Brass Bands England

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Brass Bands England’s future secured with funding uplift

Children wearing green sweatshirts sitting on a wooden floor - a girl reaches forward to take a small brass instrument
Friday, 4 November, 2022

Funding for Brass Bands England (BBE) to continue our work for the brass band sector has been confirmed today by Arts Council England (ACE), with a funding uplift to broaden our core programme significantly.

BBE has been confirmed as one of ACE's Investment Principle Support Organisations (IPSOs), meaning that it will support the sector to embed ACE's principles of ambition, dynamism, inclusivity and environmental responsibility across the banding community. IPSOs sit within the Arts Council's National Portfolio, a core group of organisations recognised as of national importance to arts and culture.

Pete Massey, Director Yorkshire and Northern Economy and Partnerships for Arts Council England added: “Brass Bands England does a fantastic job in supporting the brass bands community and I’m delighted that it has been awarded funding as one of our Investment Principle Support Organisations (IPSOs). This support will enable the organisation to develop and grow the brass bands sector across the country helping to ensure that everyone should have access to cultural opportunities, wherever they live and whatever their background.”

The public want to be creative, and have the very best art and culture available to them in their neighbourhoods. Arts Council England are therefore boosting spending in arts, museums and libraries in villages, towns and cities where investment is currently too low, as well as growing their support for organisations who are developing programmes for young people.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said: "Thanks to this new government funding package, spreading more money to more communities than ever before, people living in areas from Wolverhampton to Wigan and Crawley to Chesterfield will now get to benefit from the deep economic and social rewards culture can bring.”

The new funding period will begin in April 2023 and will run until the end of March 2026 and will see BBE gaining £405,809 per year funding support for its work supporting bands, an increase from its previous support of £210,000 per year.

Kenny Crookston, BBE’s CEO, commented: "The confidence that the Arts Council has shown in our work is testament to the astounding commitment and resilience of our member bands, plus the remarkable dedication of our staff and trustee team. Over the past few years our nation's brass bands have proved that they are strong assets to their communities as well as a valuable part of our cultural heritage. That kind of dedication deserves support at all levels.”

The receipt of this funding will allow BBE to retain its excellent staff team to continue providing support to member bands through provision of training, resources and one-to-one support. BBE’s BandSafe and Band Governance training courses will continue, alongside new resources focused on the increasingly important topics of Mental Health and Environmental Awareness. Key members services such as Fundraising and Project Management services and DBS checks will continue to be provided.

Kenny continued: "This news means that we can be certain BBE will be operating at full capacity for at least the next three years, delivering our full programme of opportunities, with a staff team working full-time to support brass bands. This is an excellent resource for our sector and I hope that it will give more bands and individuals the chance to participate in our plans."

The BBE team will also continue to deliver key annual events such as The National Youth Brass Band Championships of Great Britain (Youth Champs), The Brass Band Conference and the Brass Bands England Awards. Following a successful series of Artistic and Player Development workshop days taking place across England since 2018, a revised Artistic programme will be launched in April 2023. This will guide applicant bands through the process of curating a new performance programme alongside chosen artists culminating in a public performance opportunity produced by the BBE team.

Necessary updates to the BBE website will take place, with much of the work focused on improving the usability and function members. Work will also be undertaken, in partnership with Heritage Quay at Huddersfield University, to digitise key parts of The Brass Bands Archive and provide outreach activities to ensure its legacy is shared with new audiences.

To actively seek engagement, feedback and opinion from across the sector, BBE will be launching a number of new working groups alongside its planned Members Working Group. There will also be new career opportunities, both freelance and employed, to work with the organisation over the next three years. 

In addition to this, a series of advocacy campaigns will include the existing ‘Proms in the Playground’ initiative to bring wider awareness of all things banding to the general public.

The increased funding offer from Arts Council England allows BBE’s Brass Foundations education programme to become part of the organisation’s core activity until at least 2026. Alongside existing activities, BBE will introduce a new non-competitive Youth Festival as a complementary event to the existing Youth Champs, providing increased opportunities for schools to participate in banding events.

Sarah Baumann, BBE’s Education and Development Manager, commented: “This increased support for youth provision has huge potential for positive impact on our sector, providing opportunities to open up banding to the full diversity of our communities, and ensuring it remains relevant to participants and audiences. We can now focus on longer-term strategic programmes to support young people, alongside our Music Education Hub partners, to ensure that banding remains a vital part of our communities for years to come.”

The full scope of planned activity from April 2023 to March 2026 will be communicated in more detail over coming months, including a presentation at The RNCM Brass Band Festival in January 2023. Individuals can register for BBE news or you can join as an individual or band from £25.