Bbc Mu Orchestras Agreement
The two choirs, BBC Symphony Chorus and BBC National Chorus of Wales, are volunteer choristers and do not receive salaries. The BBC Singers are the only professional choir in the UK and, together with the five orchestras, are full-time musicians whose salaries are negotiated with the Union of Musicians (UK). Let me address the concrete issue of the BBC and its expenditure on orchestras. It is not for the government to decide on the BBC, or even to advise on how it should spend in its budget, but it will be useful to the assembly if I speak to the BBC`s position on this. 947 In toto, 172 orchestral posts disappear. The BBC gave me the figures on the cost of managing each of these orchestras. Each year, they are: the Northern Radio Orchestra, $180,000; The Midland Radio Orchestra, $220,000, the Northern Ireland Symphony Orchestra, $700,000; and the Scottish Symphony Orchestra, $620,000. I draw attention to the wonderful example of a company in my riding. The General Accident Insurance Corporation donated a considerable sum to obtain the Scottish orchestra. If only others followed suit, perhaps we could find a way to save the cultural life we so desperately need in Scotland. Scotland desperately needs its orchestras. I recommend that the BBC review its policy and call on the Musicians` Union to be more flexible in its position.
I would like to ask the government to look carefully at its funding policy for the BBC. After the agreement and before the budget cuts were announced, there were trailers from the BBC management, and after the reductions were announced, there were several inspired leaks to interested journalists, to people who were thought to be legitimately excited by the proposals, that the five orchestras cited were inflexible, outdated and inexpensive – a nice expression to make music easier. This may be an indication that the Philistines are currently in politics within the BBC. In the performing arts world – not just orchestras, but also theatre companies and ballet companies – to have first class, you also have to have second and third grades. We need a whole structure that allows artists to develop and grow, train and gain experience. It`s an illusion to think that you can focus the second and third class while keeping the upper class. I can`t. The BBC therefore has a unique responsibility to maintain these middle-class orchestras as indispensable to the lasting health and vitality of the country`s musical life. Second, the union argues that the 1978 agreement contains two elements: first, assurance that the level of employment of permanent orchestral personnel will continue to be negotiated with the musicians` union and, second, an overall guarantee of base line spending – with a calculation formula – that generates $61.2 million in expenditures. So I hope that, despite our economic difficulties and the cries of the global recession, we will ensure that our orchestras survive. I strongly agree with the Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr Walker) that the debate is important, and I regret that he said it was not more hon.
Members are present. I remember when the plans were initially announced by the BBC, hundreds of members. Members rushed to the Table Office to express their names at the beginning of the day to express their concern. The way to express one`s concern is not to give one`s name to a motion for a resolution that will never be debated, but to be present today on the soil of this House.