UK music critic: Bank support devalues classical music

Posted on: February 11, 2009

In Tuesday’s (2/10) Guardian (London), classical music writer Tom Service rails against four prominent British bankers who, appearing before the Treasury Select Committee, apologized simply for the current market crash, not any sort of lack of judgment on their parts. “So what does this all have to with music, you ask? Here’s what: many of our major classical music institutions are sponsored by one or other of our large banks—[Lord] Stevenson is chairman of Aldeburgh Music, and one of his ex-companies, the Bank of Scotland, is the major sponsor of the Edinburgh International Festival, who took over from the Royal Bank of Scotland. … But right now, the fact that the artistic directors of those festivals—or any of the other cultural organisations who owe RBS or HBOS anything in terms of support they have been given—have to suck up to these morally redundant ex-masters of the universe makes me feel queasy. How can the art made at festivals sponsored by these bankrupt individuals and companies do the job that classical music should do, and have a necessary, critical voice in contemporary culture, if it continues to be supported by the dead hand of big banking? … I would happily advocate the replacement of large-scale private—or at least City-based—sponsorship with a model of bigger public, government support.”