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Questions Raised Over the Future Funding of the Guildford Philharmonic

Published on: 23 Apr, 2012
Updated on: 30 Apr, 2012

The Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra.

The chill wind of council expenditure cuts is likely to soon affect the future funding of the Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra (GPO), following a report that is due to be presented to the Guildford Borough Council Scrutiny Committee on Thursday (April 26).

The report sets out the recent costs of subsidising the orchestra and gives four options for future arrangements. The programme for the next GPO season has been held back pending a decision on the way forward, to “avoid creating any financial liabilities”.

To date, the council’s role has been programming, marketing and co-ordinating a programme of 10 concerts per year of high standard classical music. The council employs directly a general manager and a marketing manager. They set the seasonal programme, book venues and manage the marketing and sales processes. Conductors, orchestral musicians and soloists are employed by the council on a concert- by-concert basis. The musicians are all freelance and play with other orchestras and ensembles.

Concerns centre on the costs of running the orchestra. Despite some successful economies in recent years the budgeted deficit for 2011-12 is £190,000. With total annual attendance figures ranging between 4,000 and 5,000 it means that each attendance is heavily subsidised by council tax payers. In 2010-11 this represented a subsidy of £46 for each ticket sold.

Three options for future funding arrangements are identified in the report. The first is for no change, the second is scrap the Guildford Philharmonic and leave the provision of classical music to others, the third is adopt a different “business model”.

Delineating the third option the reports states that this could be: reducing the subsidy by cutting the programme or introducing a self-governing structure e.g. , a charitable trust, such as in Worthing, West Sussex, the only other example of a municipally funded UK orchestra that could be found.

Cllr Tony Phillips, the chairman of the Corporate Improvement Scrutiny Committee, said: “The Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra has been an integral part of Guildford’s classical music scene for 50 years with its high-quality performances which add to Guildford’s vibrancy. I hope a way forward can be found to enable the orchestra to continue to perform, entertaining both residents and visitors alike with their vital contribution to Guildford’s rich cultural experience.”

What do you think? Is the Philharmonic important to Guildford’s cultural scene? Should it be subsidised by council tax payers? Have your say by using the ‘Leave a Reply’ feature below. All comments are moderated.

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Responses to Questions Raised Over the Future Funding of the Guildford Philharmonic

  1. Bernard Parke

    April 24, 2012 at 8:39 am

    Budget deficit of £190,000?

    Is not The Borough paying nearly twice as much as that to a third party to just run the new G live Centre.

    I hope someone will correct me if I am wrong.

    The Guildford Philharmonic is not only part of Guildford but a part of Guildford life.

    See also Readers Letters…

  2. Martin Giles

    April 26, 2012 at 10:35 am

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