Brass bands a victim of snobbery, says Bradford councillor

The City of Bradford Brass Band

The City of Bradford Brass Band

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Reporter

Elitism and snobbery means traditional Northern arts like brass bands are regularly overlooked in favour of more “respectable” arts like ballet and opera, according to a prominent Bradford councillor.

Coun Simon Cooke, deputy leader of the Council’s Conservative group, has criticised arts funding in his blog, The View From Cullingworth.

Coun Cooke, from Cullingworth and representing Bingley Rural, was responding to claims by Labour MP for Barnsley, Michael Dugher, that such arts fell victim to snobbery.

In 2012 the Royal Opera House received more than £26 million in Arts Council funding and the English National Ballet received nearly £6.4 million, Mr Dugher says. This compared with just £23,000 for the British Federation of Brass Bands.

He added: “Only snobbery at the heart of Whitehall can possibly explain why brass bands are not given the support they deserve compared to other branches of the arts.”

It is a view shared by Coun Cooke, who said: “Traditional English arts are a poor relation next to elite, international arts. Even when we look at arts funding in the North, we see that it is still skewed towards those same dominating areas: classical music, opera, ballet and theatre. Folk music and other arts traditions are disdained by the arts elite. Bands are to be tucked away out of sight brought out only when we want some sort of Northern ‘authenticity’. In Bradford we built a new City Centre park. And, in a city that’s home to two of the world’s best brass bands, we didn’t include a bandstand.

“It might not be everyone’s favourite thing, but these are important to the history and culture of Bradford. If the Government doesn’t give it the attention it deserves then people won’t think it’s important.”

Mike Shenton, secretary of Queensbury’s world-famous Black Dyke Band, said: “We agree that it is unfortunate that brass bands do not attract public funding in the way that some other arts do, but we have become accustomed to this over the years and have support from a number of areas including sponsors and private benefactors.”

Cluny Macpherson, regional director of the Arts Council responded: “There is a very rich tradition of brass bands across England and our top bands are the best in the world.

“We want bands to prosper with a new generation of players. In 2011/12, we invested around £120,000 through our grants for the arts programme. This was a significant increase on support from 2010/11 and reflects development work by Brass Band England. It would be great to have even more funding applications from the bands.”

Comments (7)

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1:42pm Mon 21 Jan 13

collos25 says...

You can´t beat a good brass band they are lovely to listen to.
You can´t beat a good brass band they are lovely to listen to. collos25
  • Score: 0

4:49pm Mon 21 Jan 13

Rambo says...

The problem is whenever there is a public event in Bradford, certain other types of music and entertainment seem to take priority. Example from the search feature -

http://www.thetelegr
aphandargus.co.uk/ar
chive/2012/06/19/Pos
itive+Bradford+Day/9
769581.Park_s_stage_
set_for_great_show_o
f_positivity/

Thats one public example off the top of my head where rappers, Bollywood dancers and steel drums are all mentioned but nothing the traditional Yorkshire brass band.
The problem is whenever there is a public event in Bradford, certain other types of music and entertainment seem to take priority. Example from the search feature - http://www.thetelegr aphandargus.co.uk/ar chive/2012/06/19/Pos itive+Bradford+Day/9 769581.Park_s_stage_ set_for_great_show_o f_positivity/ Thats one public example off the top of my head where rappers, Bollywood dancers and steel drums are all mentioned but nothing the traditional Yorkshire brass band. Rambo
  • Score: -1

8:00pm Mon 21 Jan 13

classwar says...

Love a brass band...this article is spot on...
Love a brass band...this article is spot on... classwar
  • Score: 0

8:53pm Mon 21 Jan 13

The Hoffster says...

Rambo wrote:
The problem is whenever there is a public event in Bradford, certain other types of music and entertainment seem to take priority. Example from the search feature -

http://www.thetelegr

aphandargus.co.uk/ar

chive/2012/06/19/Pos

itive+Bradford+Day/9

769581.Park_s_stage_

set_for_great_show_o

f_positivity/

Thats one public example off the top of my head where rappers, Bollywood dancers and steel drums are all mentioned but nothing the traditional Yorkshire brass band.
If it ain't popular, it's not gonna be given much attention.

Hardly rocket-science.
[quote][p][bold]Rambo[/bold] wrote: The problem is whenever there is a public event in Bradford, certain other types of music and entertainment seem to take priority. Example from the search feature - http://www.thetelegr aphandargus.co.uk/ar chive/2012/06/19/Pos itive+Bradford+Day/9 769581.Park_s_stage_ set_for_great_show_o f_positivity/ Thats one public example off the top of my head where rappers, Bollywood dancers and steel drums are all mentioned but nothing the traditional Yorkshire brass band.[/p][/quote]If it ain't popular, it's not gonna be given much attention. Hardly rocket-science. The Hoffster
  • Score: 1

12:00am Tue 22 Jan 13

Rambo says...

I wouldn't call steel drums and cheerleading national pastimes.
I wouldn't call steel drums and cheerleading national pastimes. Rambo
  • Score: -1

6:41am Tue 22 Jan 13

Albion. says...

I'm certainly not a fan of brass bands (the sound for some reason, reminds me of the aftermath of a pie and peas eating contest), but it would seem that the councillor is right in that brass bands have been largely cast aside in favour of other arts. Could their association with trade unions have contributed to their downfall? I do know from a couple of musicians that funding is very difficult now and some bands are in danger of folding, or indeed have already done so. The things is, do enough people want them to survive?
I'm certainly not a fan of brass bands (the sound for some reason, reminds me of the aftermath of a pie and peas eating contest), but it would seem that the councillor is right in that brass bands have been largely cast aside in favour of other arts. Could their association with trade unions have contributed to their downfall? I do know from a couple of musicians that funding is very difficult now and some bands are in danger of folding, or indeed have already done so. The things is, do enough people want them to survive? Albion.
  • Score: 0

7:35am Tue 22 Jan 13

DrJohnNS says...

If brass bands are pies and pits. Opera is fat men selling car insurance. Pop music is children squawking tunelessly. And rock music is long-haired sweaty anorexics.

Thing is, brass bands are a British cultural phenomenon, growing in many parts of the country, popular with all ages and social classes. It is a healthy, creative pastime enjoyed harmlessly by many who play or listen.

And they deserve to be supported as the high arts of art, theatre and classical music. It would be the democratic thing to do.
If brass bands are pies and pits. Opera is fat men selling car insurance. Pop music is children squawking tunelessly. And rock music is long-haired sweaty anorexics. Thing is, brass bands are a British cultural phenomenon, growing in many parts of the country, popular with all ages and social classes. It is a healthy, creative pastime enjoyed harmlessly by many who play or listen. And they deserve to be supported as the high arts of art, theatre and classical music. It would be the democratic thing to do. DrJohnNS
  • Score: 1

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