£300m Government boost for music and arts education
The Government is to spend £300 million over the next four years on music schemes designed to give more children and teenagers the opportunity to learn to play an instrument.
The money will go to a network of 121 music education hubs across England, which work with schools, local councils and community organisers to get more young people to take part in music and other arts.
A further £29 million a year is to go to a scheme providing grants to young performers to enable them to go to world-class teaching institutions like the Royal Ballet School, said the Department for Education.
And smaller grants are going to music and arts projects including the In Harmony orchestral training programme for pupils in disadvantaged areas and the Heritage Schools scheme to help children learn about their local history.
School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said the funding would help hundreds of thousands of young people aged five to 18 from all backgrounds get involved in playing instruments, singing in choirs and joining bands.
"Music and the arts can transform lives and introduce young people to a huge range of opportunities - whether that is learning to play a musical instrument, understanding local heritage or attending a world-famous dance school," said Mr Gibb.
"We're investing more than £300 million over the next four years so that those opportunities are open to all, not just the privileged few."
The announcement was welcomed by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, who said music education should not be for "the privileged few".
Lord Lloyd-Webber said: "At last, this is a welcome first step to improving funding for music and the arts in Britain's schools. An education in music and the arts builds self-esteem, improves behaviour and social skills, and increases broader academic achievement - these are opportunities that should be available to everyone, not just the privileged few.
"I look forward to working with the Government to build on today's commitment, and to make Britain a global powerhouse in music and the arts through education."