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Welsh authorities link up to fund music opportunities for every child

The Anthem fund will grant up to £300,000 a year to Welsh children and young people who want to develop their musical talents

The Welsh government and the Arts Council of Wales are launching a fund to help children develop their musical talents.

Anthem, Music Fund Wales is a £1m investment aimed at making musical opportunities available to everyone aged three up to 25. The initiative was designed on the recommendation of an independent music services task group.

The funding follows calls for action in order to save music education in Wales which, like the rest of the UK, found its music teaching hit hard by austerity and children put at risk of a ‘postcode lottery’ which meant their access to music was entirely dependent on their school or location.

To ensure the Anthem fund grows over the next three years, it will be drawn from a range of sources across the public, private and third sector.

The board will aim to give out up to £300,000 in grants each year, starting in 2021.

Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams said: “I want all our young people, whatever their background or ability, to enjoy music and to be able to develop their talents and skills. [This] is a ground-breaking initiative that will not only increase access to musical experiences but also enhance existing music services.

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“This will build on the music education already delivered by schools as part of the new curriculum and will allow learners access to new and exciting opportunities outside of school.”

The Welsh government and Arts Council want to support what they acknowledge as an “ambitious fundraising effort” by recruiting high-profile figureheads who have already achieved success in music and are passionate about keeping the door to musical opportunities open to everyone, regardless of background.

Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport Lord Elis-Thomas added: “I am proud of the way the Welsh Government and Arts Council of Wales have worked together in order to make Anthem a reality but in order to build the Fund we will need to work in partnership with the music industry across the UK.

“That’s why I am today calling on all artists and businesses across Wales to be part of the Fund and make sure that others can discover and share in the joy of music.”

The launch comes as the music education sector is in chaos right across the UK, with councils forced to run arts lessons on a shoestring. Last week Midlothian Council backtracked on its plans to cut all music tuition entirely when angry parents and campaigners held a protest outside the Dalkeith council headquarters. The Anthem fund is in addition to a £3m investment announced in 2018 by Welsh Minister for Education Kirsty Williams.

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