Relief as historic collection is preserved for the city

April 29 2018

Bristol’s collection of over 1,200 music sets and scores will remain in the city after an agreement was reached between Bristol Music Trust and Bristol’s Library Service.

The news comes following original plans to transfer its music sets to other libraries or facilities outside the city. It will be a relief for campaigners who were keen to see the culturally significant collection stay within Bristol.

Bristol Music Trust, which runs Colston Hall and the city's music education hub Bristol Plays Music, will hold the collection at its Southmead Music Hub and will make it available to a new audience, including students and children.

Groups wishing to hire sets will also have the option to use the subscription service based at the Performing Arts Library in Yeovil, as well as facilities in other neighbouring authorities and commercial organisations.

Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor with responsibility for libraries, said: “We are delighted to have reached an agreement with Bristol Music Trust to keep these valuable assets in Bristol.

“As the library service seeks to make changes and look at new ways of doing things under the current budget pressures we are no longer able to offer access to the music sets or the inter-lending service to music groups.

“However, we listened to the campaigners who were very clear that they wanted to see these sets stay in Bristol, and we are grateful to BMT for working with us to allow them to remain accessible to music groups.”

Phil Castang, Director of Creative Learning and Engagement at Bristol Music Trust said: “As an organisation dedicated to making music accessible to everyone, it seemed wholly appropriate to work with Bristol City Council to secure the future of this popular collection and be able to continue public access.

“Because of the volume of orchestral and choral music sets currently in storage we’re hoping to involve the public to help us review and sort the collection before we move it to our Bristol Plays Music hub in Southmead. It will then be available to music groups to borrow.”

Barbara Eifler, Chief Executive of Making Music, who led the campaign to keep the music sets available for public loan said: “We are delighted that the Bristol music sets will be looked after and made available to community music groups by Bristol Plays Music. Users of the service have been very concerned about the future of the collection and will be reassured that its future remains in Bristol. Undoubtedly they will be keen to support Bristol Plays Music with the transition in practical ways.

“These resources are of great value to choirs, orchestras and bands which are volunteer-led and unfunded, and yet have such a significant impact on the individuals who take part as well as the communities they operate in. Affordable and local material to support their music-making is essential to their sustainability. Making Music is very pleased that Bristol Plays Music is so supportive of life-long music participation.”

Julie Parker from Bristol Choral Society said: “This is great news for amateur musicians in the city. For a choir of our size - around 180 -  the costs of subscribing to a music library outside the city and paying non-resident hiring fees would probably have been prohibitive, both for the choir and for individual members. 

“Our choir, the Bristol Choral Society, is delighted the Council listened to our and other amateur musicians' concerns and is giving a four part "hallelujah!" at the news!”