Former Bedford music staff form a new self sufficient co-operative

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Bedford Music Service is going solo after all 27 members of staff objected to a £90,000 council cut, the T&C can reveal.

The music teachers joined forces in harmony to form the Bedford Music Co-operative, which will deliver instrumental and vocal lessons in schools.

It is understood every single member took voluntary redundancy from the music service after substantial pay cuts were proposed for all of them.

The new co-operative, which is holding its launch concert on Sunday, will be self-sufficient and survive on income from tuition fees and schools.

A spokesman said: “The same team of instrumental and vocal teachers who will now be working as an independent organisation.”

The music service taught 1,800 youngsters a week.It was formed out of Bedfordshire Music, the county wide service which existed for almost 40 years.

Bedford Music Service received a £260,000 annual Arts Council grant to promote initiatives such as First Access, which gives every primary school pupil in Bedford a chance to try a musical instrument for a term and a half.

This scheme,together with the Whole Class singing projects, will now be run by Bedford Borough Council and it will still be funded by the Arts Council.

The changes officially started next last week.

Meanwhile the new co-operative, with the help of a private backer, has moved into temporary office accommodation in Wootton.

A spokesman for the co-operative said: “We look forward to working with the council and continuing the spirit of cooperation that has developed over the past few months.

“It is important to parents and schools to know and understand what is happening to the delivery of instrumental lessons to nearly 2,000 pupils in the borough and to show that they are in safe hands in the future.”

The celebratory launch concert will be held on Sunday, September 11, at 3pm in St Andrew’s Church, Kimbolton Road, Bedford.

Entry is free and there will be a varied programme of short items from some of the range of the co-operative’s ensembles.

There will be jazz, folk, rock and classical, with vocal and instrumental pieces.