Two items of news appeared over the past few weeks that do not give hope to new music followers and creators.
Sound and Music, the UK's national new music agency, released the results of their composer survey, which asked composers about their careers, income and commissions. The results are not heartening for new music: as we all know, arts organisations across the world have suffered cuts upon cuts over the past few years, and contemporary music is struggling under their weight. The survey found that the average annual commission income in 2013 was 2,717, and only 15% of those surveyed earned more income than in 2012. In the words of Sound and Music's chief executive Susanna Eastburn, 'the evidence implies...that the work of composers (and composers as a profession) is valued far less by the sector than that of performers, conductors and administrators.' Read the full article here.
Soon after, a report - also published in the Guardian by Susanne Eastburn - emerged that the BBC deliberated omitted new music performances, including Sir Harrison Birtwistle's Sonanace Severance, from their broadcast of the Proms. Again we have an institutionally-reinforced lack of respect for both new music creators and audiences, an assumption that newly-composed music is only for the elite, the few and the niche. Read the full article here.
Composers will continue to create music, but without the support of institutions changing attitudes towards both its creation and presentation, doing so becomes more and more of a struggle each year. What are the first steps we need to take to make this happen?