Hadleigh: Musician calls for postgraduate funding

Hadleigh oboist Alex Tostevine

Hadleigh oboist Alex Tostevine - Credit: Archant

A CLASSICAL music student has warned that young people are being deterred from seeking careers in the industry because of the lack of Government funding.

Oboist Alex Tostevine, 23, from Hadleigh, is in the first year of an advanced instrumental studies masters degree at London’s Guilhall School of Music and Drama. But despite writing hundreds of letters asking for financial backing, he has to work most evenings to pay for his studies because he cannot get a grant.

Mr Tostevine, who started playing the oboe at Hadleigh High School, and was a former Suffolk Youth Orchestra member and Aldeburgh Young Musician, said: “Where there are bursaries for mathematicians or scientists, there’s absolutely nothing for instrumentalists who want to pursue postgraduate studies with a view to becoming a professional musician. It’s very much a case that the arts are seen as a luxury rather than a necessity. But to people like me who have devoted 10 years to an instument and have decided that’s what we want to do for a living, it’s a kick in the teeth to find out the Government won’t support you in that goal because it is not seen as important. The option to do a second year is there but 90% of people don’t pursue it because they can’t afford to be there. Without money behind it, the profession has no future.”

Mr Tostevine is currently funding his position by teaching students and playing with the Aquilon ensemble. He also receives small sums from the Scarfe Charitable Trust and a private donor.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills said the Government supported postgraduate study through the Higher Education Funding Council for England and via the ring-fenced science and research budget. He added: “HEFCE has also increased funding of more than £200 million for taught and research postgraduate programmes between 2012-13 and 2014-15. Some graduates may be able to access funding from alternative sources including professional career development loans, provided by high street banks. We have asked HEFCE to review participation in postgraduate study as part of a longer term assessment and evaluation of the impact of undergraduate funding changes.”

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An Arts Council England spokesman said the provision of high quality qualifications in arts subjects was “essential” to a broad and balanced curriculum, adding: “Arts courses in higher education and universities are vital for helping to create a strong and diverse workforce for the cultural sector and creative industries.”

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