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Virginia Haworth-Galt, the FMS Chief Executive

Virginia Haworth-Galt's Chief Executive blog

There is no doubt that we enter the New Year with many unanswered questions and still facing many challenges. The FMS is determined to continue to provide support, encouragement and leadership for Music Services during these difficult times.
In the Autumn we had very constructive and positive face to face meetings with key Government Ministers (Ed Vaizey and Nick Gibb). As these meetings took place after we had submitted our responses to the Comprehensive Spending Review and to the Henley Review we were able to discuss our submissions in the context of the meetings. We furthered these specific relationships when the Ministers sponsored events for FMS and Youth Music at Portcullis House. Further events, celebrating the work of young musicians and Music Services, were also sponsored by Don Foster and Ben Bradshaw. MPs and Government Officials were invited to these events and we were able to promote the work and achievements of Music Services and outline the issues and challenges faced by them. Letters to MPs and further distribution of the ever popular ’10 Things’ leaflet ensured an on-going raised political profile for Music Services.
In November we also partnered Music for Youth and hosted a box at all three evenings of the Schools Prom. This enabled us to further our key advocacy and promotion by raising awareness of the work that Music Services do in progressing young musicians from across England and Wales.
We recognised the difficulties faced by many Music Services due to the uncertainties of local authority funding decisions. On an advocacy and lobbying level we ensured that Ministers, MPs and Senior Civil Servants were all aware of the problems faced by Music Services due to the delay in central government funding announcements. We encouraged local authorities not to make decisions until the outcomes of the Henley Review were known. On a practical level we partnered with ISM to provide clear advice and guidance to Music Services regarding local lobbying and advocacy work. We also introduced a ‘Hotline’ ensuring that any Head of Service knew they could phone another experienced FMS Member for one-to-one support.
We have ‘stepped-up’ our media work and have successfully promoted our key messages about the value and role of Music Services across a range of publications and the BBC. We have consistently used the media to reinforce our message about the danger of funding for music education being directly allocated to schools.
We are awaiting the Henley Review announcements and anticipate hearing about the ‘transitional’ arrangements for 2011 before the end of January. The ‘Burning Issues’ event on February 7th will enable us to discuss and plan for this. We aim to face 2011-2015 proactively, positioning ourselves ready to shape the future of music education (and not just react). The Burning Issues event will be the first one of our preparing for change events. We will also hold three more in the early Spring, once the full Government announcements regarding plans and funding are made, in the North East, West Midlands and London. These events will ensure that Music Services are given the necessary support and information allowing them to thrive in the new music education landscape. Our annual conference in June will further this work.
Please do contact me directly if you have any ideas on ways in which FMS can provide further support for you and your Music Service.

A message from our incoming Chief Executive is an earlier blog entry Creating a new musical landscape is a more recent blog entry

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