Conservatives call for extra funds to help Blackheath Conservatoire ensure its future

Greenwich Conservatives have called upon the Labour Council to change its plans for Festivals funding next year to help prevent the Blackheath Conservatoire from closing and set it on the right path in the future.


Blackheath Conservatoire has set a public target of raising £175,000 by the end of February or they may have to close later in the year, before a new plan to secure its long-term future can take effect.  However, there are also substantial funds required to refurbish the Victorian Art studio to the rear of the main Conservatoire building.


In their alternative Financial Strategy Conservatives set aside £50,000 for the Blackheath Conservatoire which was to be drawn from ending Councillors’ pension entitlement in the future.  This alternative was rejected unanimously by Labour Councillors in January.  Now, in another attempt to help Blackheath Conservatoire survive to continue in its historic and important role in the Greenwich community, Conservative Councillors are asking the Cabinet Member for Culture and Creative Industries to change his decision on funding the Greenwich Festivals for 2013/14 in order to protect the Blackheath Conservatoire’s long-term future. The decision was taken on Thursday 21st February 2013.


Conservatives are asking that £40,000 is taken from the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival this year and is passed directly to the Blackheath Conservatoire.  In addition, Conservatives would like to reallocate some of the funds currently aimed at the ‘Great Outdoors’ programme to create a set of music scholarships, to enable students from poorer backgrounds to access music tuition provided at the Blackheath Conservatoire. 


Leader of Greenwich Conservatives Cllr Spencer Drury said “The Blackheath Conservatoire has been in business for 132 years and during that time it has encouraged hundreds of local people to get involved in the arts.  As a teacher in the borough, I know many students who have taken lessons at the Blackheath Conservatoire and as a local resident I know my wife and daughter have benefitted from the lessons they took there in the past.  To lose this historic and valuable resource is unthinkable and so I call upon the Labour Council to change its spending priorities for at least this year.” 


“I hope that the Blackheath Conservatoire will reach its public fund raising target before the end of this month, but ensuring its future means further investment is required.  The Blackheath Conservatoire hopefully needs only a little help to make the transition to a new business model and the Council could provide that by reducing spending on the Docklands Festival this year.  Obviously this would not have been my preferred way of raising the funds and I wish Labour Councillors had put the community above their own pension benefits during the Financial Strategy vote in January, but unfortunately this was not to be.”


“In addition, Conservatives would like to see young people from poorer families in the borough benefitting from music lessons at the Blackheath Conservatoire and so have asked for funds to be allocated for this purpose too.”