ABO conference: Vaizey 'sick and tired' of councils abandoning music

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Ed Vaizey at the ABO conference

Minister for Culture Ed Vaizey talks to Classic FM about the future for the arts in Britain.

08:11

Minister for Culture Ed Vaizey has said he is 'sick and tired of local authorities stepping away from their responsibility for the arts'.

The Conservative minister was speaking at the opening session of the 30th conference of the Association of British Orchestras at the Sage Gateshead.

Vaizey kicked off by praising the cultural offerings of Gateshead, including the Angel of the North and the Sage itself, which he said had contributed £300 million pounds to the local economy in its first decade of existence.

Questioned on the subject of funding for music following his speech, Vaizey called on councils to commit to supporting arts in their area.

“We want local authorities to continue to support local arts not just because we need their money, but because we need their commitment.

“It’s not just about writing a cheque. It’s about being committed to supporting arts in the local area.

"I'm sick and tired of local authorities stepping away from their responsibility for the arts."

Vaizey also called on orchestras to embrace the digital age, criticising the “19th century style of performance”, where “the audience sits and quietly enjoys” the show.

“There’s nothing wrong with using video to enhance a performance,” he said.

With his eye on the general election, which is just three months away, Vaizey joked: “Any job in the arts requires a 10-year tenure rather than a five-year tenure.”

Talking to Classic FM’s Jane Jones after his speech (see video above), Vaizey said it’s never too late to learn an instrument, admitting that he “admires” Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls for taking his grade 4 piano exam. 

Referencing Whiplash , the new film about a music teacher who uses cruel and abusive tactics to push a young drummer to perfection, Vaizey said: “I did learn the drums for a brief period of time and gave it up when I was 15. I wonder if I had a similar teacher whether I would be a world-class drummer today.”

The ABO conference continues for three days. Classic FM will be broadcasting live from the event as part of its Royal Northern Sinfonia week. It will also host three debates on Friday 30 January, including ‘Does classical music need a reboot?’

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