Save Music at the University of Strathclyde

The University of Strathclyde has formally announced that it proposes to close the Director of Music’s Office, thereby making the posts within it redundant (along with those of its other cultural activities) as soon as August. The potential ratification of this proposal jeopardises the ongoing existence of the various ensembles (Big Band, Celtic Ensemble, Chamber Choir, Chorus, Concert Band, Guitar Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra) and events (such as Lunchtime Music at the Ramshorn, Rush Hour Jazz in the City Halls, evening concerts in the Barony Hall), due to a total lack of infrastructure and professional direction.

This proposal also seriously threatens students on the BA Applied Music course who are required as part of a course module to participate in these ensembles. This threat shows a complete u-turn on the assurance by the University that there would be no reduction in quality of musical education following the decision to cease intake for the BAAM course. Without the service that the Director of Music's office provides, current music students would be left completely out in the cold by the University in this respect. The pertinence of this point is exacerbated when considering the fact that a new music course is currently in development to replace BA Applied Music. With no music office to run these activities, this new course would be hugely lacking in terms of resources.

To run the current (extracurricular) Culture and Arts Programme (Music, Drama and Visual Art) costs the University £344 (£250K Staff, £94K Running Costs), of which £87K is allocated to Music. The proposed “rationalisation” would see an increase in the running costs spend from £94K to £100K, but accompanied by a total removal of the staffing infrastructure to deliver it, thus saving the £250K. This, of course, would include the Music staffing infrastructure (Director of Music and Secretary) that currently secures the ongoing health of the extensive programme of ensembles and events through meticulous attention to the many processes such as planning, recruiting and publicity as illustrated by http://www.strath.ac.uk/music.

This proposal has been put forward at the most inconvenient time for students: during the Easter break when many are away from the university. The consultation period for this proposal is also extremely short, ending on the 21st of April, with the final decision being made by the University Court on the 6th of May. Not only do we entirely disagree with this proposal, but we find it totally unfair and unreasonable that the process should be rushed through on a timescale that makes it extremely difficult to mount a response.

The sum of money that the University stands to save from this proposal is an absolute pittance compared to the loss of cultural knowledge, resources, and overall immense reputational damage that it stands to suffer.

Any reputable International Technological University (which the current Principal of Strathclyde wishes to develop this university into) must also have a vibrant cultural scene, especially with regards to music. Cultural activities within a university do not detract from core activities. They are core activities, and we believe that any higher education institution which does not believe and follow by this mantra is second-rate.

This proposal stands to take away not just one of Strathclyde's but one of Glasgow's greatest cultural assets, and we, the undersigned, strongly oppose.

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