Brass bands losing out, says Doncaster born MP

A scene from Brassed Off.
A scene from Brassed Off.

Brass bands lose out to opera as the middle class lobby sways funding for the south, a Doncaster-born MP has claimed.

Opera is in line to receive £347.4 million during the five years of the current Parliament, compared to just 
£1.8 million for brass bands, new figures show.

Cash for the bands has increased from £75,521 in 2010/11 to £550,495 in 2013/14, while opera has seen a drop from a 2012/13 high of £80.9 million to £65.8 million in 2013/14.

Culture, Media and Sport Committee member Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley and son of the former Mayor of Doncaster Peter Davies, said he was pleased the ‘woeful’ funding for brass bands had been alleviated, but the issue symbolised concerns in the North about Arts Council funding.

He noted most funding given to opera is for London and the South East, adding Yorkshire MPs held a concern brass bands did not get a fair share.

Mr Davies, who received the figures via a parliamentary question, said: “I’m pleased to see funding for brass bands has risen, but there is still a massive disparity in the figures over the five years of this Parliament for opera and brass bands.

“The overwhelming majority of that funding is for London and the South East.

“ I just think, even though I am pleased to see the woeful funding for brass bands has been slightly alleviated, the question symbolises an issue many people in the North have with the relative funding of the Arts Council.

“Brass bands are an essential part of the local community all over the country, particularly for people like us in the North.

“I was born and brought up in Ed Miliband’s Doncaster North constituency, which is full of mining villages.

“That’s my background and heritage – brass brands were always part of the local community wherever I have lived.

“I think they do not just bring a lot of pleasure, but are part of the fabric of the community.”

Mr Davies believes there is a frustration among MPs, particularly in Yorkshire, about the lack of cash for the bands.