Writing this comment gives me very little satisfaction, but in view of the news that circulated today concerning the possible closure of Yorkshire Libraries Music and Drama Service (details here), I refer you to my previous blog entry on 26th May entitled ‘The Barbarians are at the Gates’, and in particular to the penultimate paragraph, with the unavoidable cliché ‘I told you so’. Let’s hope that Making Music’s campaign against the closure is successful – if you belong to an amateur music or theatre group and borrow performing material from the library, join the campaign now.
But what if the closure goes ahead? And what if it’s the first of many? Is there any alternative scenario? A brief discussion on Facebook with some friends made me think that what we need is an artistic equivalent of the National Trust – a charitable organisation that takes on the responsibility of looking after our cultural heritage when the state – or private concerns – back away.
The National Trust takes on the care of buildings and land on behalf of the nation when the original owners, or the state, cannot afford to do so. Our new organisation would take on the cultural services being abandoned and run them for the benefit of us all. Like the National Trust, it would raise money through membership, general fundraising, and the charges levied to non-members for the use of its services. To take the example of Wakefield Music Library, it would take over the running of the service, pay the staff, and pay any rent necessary for the buildings it occupies. It would require the authorities that own the stock of music and books to either sign over the stock to the new charity, or just offer it as a perpetual loan.
Would such an idea have legs? Your thoughts would be very welcome here – post your comments below!