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East Lancashire's leading orchestra to be silenced by council funding cuts
The Lancashire Sinfonietta is based at Lancaster University and draws on more than 70 professional musicians
COUNTY Hall bosses came under fire yesterday for forcing Lancashire’s leading orchestra to fall silent because of cash cuts.
The Lancashire Sinfonietta has suspended operations for a year after its grant from the local authority was slashed by 80 per cent.
Orchestra chairman Malcolm Brown warned the professional ensemble, which has entertained audiences for the past 17 years may never play again.
County cultural boss and Padiham and Burnley West councillor Marcus Johnstone said: “We can't provide them with money that simply doesn’t exist.”
The Sinfonietta, which gives concerts across Lancashire, with recent performances in Clitheroe, Nelson, Burnley and Accrington, has seen its grant cut from £144,000 last year to £28,592 for the coming 12 months.
As a result its planned programme of concerts, using professional musicians such as Hyndburn’s principal viola player David Aspin, has been cancelled.
Mr Brown said: “This precipitous decision has left the orchestra with no choice but to suspend its planned programme for the coming year.
“The trustees of the orchestra have explored a range of options.
“However, it appears unlikely that we can sustain the work of the orchestra given the circumstances.
“We will spend the next year looking for alterative finance but the future looks bleak.”
He said the orchestra had been awarded £40,000 over two years from the Arts Council to help it look for other benefactors but when Lancashire County Council refused its application for £96,500 for the coming 12 months that money had been withdrawn.
Mark Pemberton, director of the Association of British Orchestras, said: “The saving to Lancashire County Council from cutting its funding represents just 0.001 per cent of the total savings it aims to make over three years.
“It is an infinitesimal sum in relation to reducing the council’s annual expenditure of nearly £2 billion.
“The impact of the loss of Lancashire Sinfonietta on concert goers is potentially devastating.”
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