Radio 3 discusses the future of the Arts

Posted on April 16, 2010

Gillian Reynolds in The Guardian reviews Radio 3’s MUSIC MATTERS: a discussion involving Ben Bradshaw, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Photo: David Rose

Radio 3 has real fans here and internet followers around the world. What it doesn’t usually have is a place for them to speak live on air. This might explain why Saturday’s election phone-in on Music Matters fell so flat.

Ben Bradshaw, Ed Vaizey and Don Foster spoke for the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties on the future for classical music as they, arts ministers real and potential, see it. Journalist Richard Morrison added comment. Chairman Tom Service, speaking as urgently as if there were a mob at the door, hustled it along. What was his rush? They took six calls at most although the lines had been open for hours.

All three speakers thought the arts a good thing. None would commit to ring-fencing their budgets. There was vague chat about additional sources of funding and simplified tax incentives but Bradshaw and Vaizey differed so little that they almost sounded like a new X Factor duo, Bened, Edben.

The hottest topic was the educational value of music. Everyone agreed music is a force for good. It teaches young people discipline and concentration, keeps them off the streets, raises self esteem. But, they also concurred, there aren’t enough specialist teachers, there are too many new initiatives and old disparities between state and private schools. Look, lads, this won’t do. Go away Beded/Edben. Phone-ins are for sharp divisions of opinion, passionate advocacy and rebuttal from real people. They have completely changed radio. “

Listen again by clicking here.  (Available until Saturday 17 April)

Read the Guardian review of the discussion here

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