Wiltshire Music Centre (WMC) in Bradford on Avon has been awarded £56,898 as part of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund to help the organisation recover and reopen. WMC is one of more than 2,700 cultural and creative organisations across the country to benefit from the latest round of awards from the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF). More than £300 million has been awarded in the latest round of support, the Culture Secretary announced today.

The second round of awards made today will help organisations to look ahead to the spring and summer and plan for reopening and recovery. After months of closures and cancellations to contain the virus and save lives, this funding will be a much-needed helping hand for organisations transitioning back to normal in the months ahead. 

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said:

“Our record breaking Culture Recovery Fund has already helped thousands of culture and heritage organisations across the country survive the biggest crisis they've ever faced. Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back through their doors - helping our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in the better times ahead."

The CRF grant will provide critical support to the WMC to ensure that it can continue to play a vital role in the cultural life of Wiltshire. The Centre is the only professional concert hall in the county presenting over 150 concerts a year by world class visiting artists, as well as a busy community centre hosting a diverse programme of regular activities by local groups and ensembles, and a vibrant creative learning hub delivering over 30 projects a year to support people of all ages and abilities.

As lead partner for the Celebrating Age Wiltshire project, WMC supports thousands of vulnerable, isolated older people across the county through arts, heritage and cultural activities. The Centre’s monthly creative group for young learning-disabled adults, Zone Club, is recognised for its innovative approach to accessible participatory practice. WMC is also home to several regional youth ensembles including the West of England Youth Orchestra, the Wiltshire Youth Jazz Orchestra and new Wiltshire Youth Choir, which was launched last year during lockdown. Through its programmes, WMC plays an instrumental role in the wellbeing of over 55,000 people a year including over 5,000 children and young people.

The second CRF grant will enable the Centre to commit the essential resources it needs to continue to develop and deliver its ambitious programme between April and June 2021, including a livestream concert series utilising the Centre’s new state-of-the-art broadcast suite.

The Trustees of the Wiltshire Music Centre are also delighted to announce the appointment of James Slater as the new Chief Executive & Artistic Director. Mr Slater, who is founder and former Artistic Director of the Mid-Wales Chamber Orchestra, has been Artistic Director at WMC since 2013 and Interim Chief Executive since November 2020; he will take on the dual role from April 1st 2021. He said:

“We are completely thrilled to have been awarded funding from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund. This grant together with the tremendous ongoing support of our Friends and Angels, volunteers, sponsors and supporters, will enable us to continue to serve our community at this critical time. It will also help us to take significant strides towards rebuilding our artistic and community programmes, to enable people to come back together through music as society reopens, and to develop our business model to ensure a more sustainable future.

Wiltshire Music Centre has played a vital role in the musical story of Wiltshire for almost 24 years and I am delighted to work with the exceptional team here and lead the organisation into its next chapter.”