An Open Letter to Sound and Music and Arts Council England


Press release: Tuesday March 27, 2012


An Open Letter to Sound and Music and Arts Council England has been signed by some 250 composers, performers, administrators and supporters of contemporary music, headed by Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and including Julian Anderson, George Benjamin, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Martyn Brabbins, Michael Finnissy, Anthony Gilbert, Steven Isserlis, Oliver Knussen, Paul Mealor, Thea Musgrave and Judith Weir. It is endorsed by the Classical and Jazz Executive of BASCA, the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors. A full list of signatories is attached, together with a supplementary list of names added after the deadline.


The letter was drafted by  Nicola LeFanu and Colin Matthews, who chaired the panel which helped prepare the Holst  Foundation report Provision for New Music last year. This report reviewed in detail what it saw as severely diminished support for unestablished and emerging composers, together with the need for the re-instatement of a British Music Information Centre.


Sound and Music was formed in 2008 by the merger of the Society for the Promotion of New Music, the British Music Information Centre, Sonic Arts Network, and the Contemporary Music Network, with substantial Arts Council support - around £3.2m over the first three years of its life. Without any remit to do so, it soon abandoned the many important and long-established programmes of its founder organisations. In the 2011 Arts Council funding review its grant was cut by 40%; this was followed by the resignation of its Chief Executive and of other executive and board members.


The Open Letter has been written in response to Sound and Music’s ‘A New Direction 2012 - 2015’ document and their imminent appointment of a new Chief Executive (an outline can be found at It shows that Sound and Music has little or no support from the sector it was set up to represent. Drastic changes are needed if it is to have any future credibility.


For further information please contact:

Nicola LeFanu

Colin Matthews

Eve O’Kelly, Cultural Management and Research