At the Council’s budget-setting meeting, it was announced that an agreement had been reached with the Bromley Youth Music Trust (BYMT) regarding the final phase of the council’s reduction in funding for the trust.
The proposed cut in funding for 2015/16 of £230,000 was scaled back to £153,000. The proposed full withdrawal of the direct grant for 2016/17 remains, however the existing peppercorn rent for the Southborough Lane site – equivalent to some £200,000 per annum – also remains until the end of the lease in April 2017.
In addition, the Trust is responding more positively to the Council’s efforts to assist them in securing more sources of funding from elsewhere. The agreement should set the scene for a successful transition for the Trust to greater independence from the Council without compromising its nationally recognised reputation for youth music.
Many residents, parents and otherwise, will be aware of the outstanding reputation and work of the Bromley Youth Music Trust (BYMT).
However, as may will be aware, Bromley Council is facing some difficult decisions as they try to find some £60-70m savings over the next four years, and services such as BYMT, which the council is not required to provide by law, will come under scrutiny.
Currently the council makes a grant of £306,000 per annum to BYMT, in addition to a peppercorn rent at the Southborough Lane site which represents a further subsidy of some £150,000 p.a.. The Council are very keen to ensure that BYMT is able to become more financially secure by reducing its reliance on volatile council funding and diversifying its income sources. That is why they have been reducing, in a manageable way, the grant to BYMT over the last few years – in fact the direct grant to BYMT now represents less than 20% of its total income (compared to 45% four years ago) – while at the same time, crucially, the council is working with BYMT to source other funding streams.
One of these is a bid to the Arts Council, to become a hub for musical excellence in South East London. Also, the council is looking at other ways that it can support BYMT financially with the help that it already gives pupils from poorer backgrounds. The council is also encouraging BYMT to engage with other local authorities and schools, providing music services to a currently under-supplied market, as well as seeking more commercial sponsorship and support.
Bromley Council is very keen that it’s able to meet its own financial challenges but without leaving BYMT ‘high and dry’. As a jewel in Bromley’s crown we all want to see BYMT continue to go from strength to strength and the council is determined that its reputation is sustained even as its dependence on the council taxpayer continues to reduce.