The future of one of Jersey's biggest music events hangs in the balance this morning, following crisis talks yesterday between officials and organisers.
‘Jersey Sings!’ – a yearly educational project that unites young performers of all abilities from 28 schools – was dealt what could still be a fatal blow this week when it announced that the Government planned to cut its annual funding, to the tune of £10,000, which covered about 15% of the event's running costs.
The charity behind the event, Music in Action, said that news of the cut came just 10 days ahead of the next Jersey Sings concert at the Royal Jersey Showground on 19 and 20 June, which will involve performances from around 700 seven to 12-year-olds following four months of rehearsals and teaching workshops.
That was disputed yesterday by the Education Minister, Senator Tracey Vallois, who said much more notice had been given:
“For the past three years we have offered financial assistance, as well as support across a number of areas including educational workshops and safeguarding, to help Music in Action run this event. We have once again this year given great practical support to Music in Action to assist them.
"Music in Action were aware nine months ago that we were not in a position to provide funding in 2019, therefore it is incorrect to state that notice only came ten days before the event. There is genuine partnership working between Education and Music in Action, so this extremely last minute approach to ask for additional costs for re-locating from Fort Regent is entirely inappropriate."
Pictured: The government previously funded Jersey Sings to the tune of £10,000 annually.
Senator Vallois met James Mews from Music in Action yesterday afternoon, to discuss a way forward. Afterwards, both said the meeting had been positive. Mr Mews added that while the event was still "at risk" he was hopeful an agreement could be reached, with Education due to respond by the end of today with more news.
An Education spokesperson said: “There has been no pledge for financial support for Music in Action in 2019. However, we are actively looking to see what support we can give Music in Action for this and future music projects.”
The charity has set up a JustGiving page, to try and raise the funds it needs to keep the community event going. At the time of writing, it has raised over £400 of its £10,000 target.
Pictured: the annual event involves up to 700 children.
Under the guidance of world record-breaking conductor David Lawrence and his Musical Director Craig McLeish, this year's event will see children perform hits ranging from Coldplay's 'Viva La Vida' to 'The Greatest Showman'.
With its roots in education, the project has also seen youngsters learn about the suffragette movement, the environment and cultural issues, and grasp Jèrriais for a song that could be the largest ever performance in the island's native tongue.
According to Jersey Sings Director Stephanie McGill, there are also positive effects for the children's wellbeing.
"Research has proven that singing helps children's creativity, language as well as personal and social development. Singing releases endorphins to the brain allowing the children to be more open to new ideas and helping them to learn in other areas of the curriculum. Jersey Sings 2019 was so popular and had the largest number of children participating yet. We are all so desperate for it to work. It is an incredible experience for the children to take part in and I don't want them to lose out," she said.
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