ISM urges Williamson to delay ‘damaging’ higher education arts funding cuts

Harriet Clifford
Wednesday, August 11, 2021

The letter calls on the education secretary to ‘reconsider’ the timeframe in which 50 per cent funding cuts to high-cost arts subjects like music will go ahead.


The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) has written to Gavin Williamson following the confirmation that proposed funding cuts to 'high-cost' arts subjects at higher education levels will go ahead from September.

Dated 11 August, the letter signed by chief executive Deborah Annetts reiterates previously expressed concerns that the cuts in England will reduce the quality and accessibility of performing arts courses to people from all backgrounds. 

It urges Williamson to delay implementation if he is ‘determined to press ahead with these damaging cuts’ and calls for ‘a more thorough consultation and supplementary proposals’ before they go ahead.

The letter also highlights that changes for the new academic year were confirmed on 20 July, giving HE providers ‘virtually no time’ to plan and adapt. According to the ISM, a delay until ‘at least’ 2022-23 will allow time for stakeholders to understand the full impact of the changes on the delivery of performing arts courses. 

Effecting performing arts courses - including music - creative arts, and media studies, the cuts will see funding halved, with money ‘reprioritised’ away from arts towards STEM, medicine and healthcare. 

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said that this redistribution is ‘justified to support government priorities’. 

In the letter, Annetts requests the opportunity to discuss the subject further, and offers the ISM’s assistance in developing proposals to help reduce the ‘detrimental’ impact of the cuts.

The full letter can be read here