BBC Reverses Controversial Decision to Disband Its Leading Choir BBC Singers

The BBC has reversed a controversial decision to disband its professional choir, the BBC Singers.

The corporation confirmed on Friday that it’s “suspending” the proposal to close the group, and that the BBC Singers will also appear in this summer’s annual classical concert series, the BBC Proms.

In a statement, the BBC said it has “received approaches from a number of organizations offering alternative funding models for the BBC Singers. We have agreed with the Musicians’ Union that we will suspend the proposal to close the BBC Singers, while we actively explore these options. If viable, these alternative options would secure the future of the ensemble.”

The corporation received widespread criticism for its shock decision earlier this month to shutter the BBC Singers, which is the U.K.’s only full-time professional chamber choir. The group sings in many classical music events around the country, and also employs a long list of freelance singers.

The statement continued: “We know that the BBC Singers are much loved across the classical community and their professionalism, quality and standing has never been in question. We have said throughout these were difficult decisions. Therefore, we want to fully explore the options that have been brought to us to see if there is another way forward. The BBC still needs to make savings and still plans to invest more widely in the future of choral singing across the U.K.”

The BBC said it will continue to work with the Musicians’ Union and other BBC unions about its proposals for its English Orchestras, which are still facing a 20% cut to salaried positions.

Entertainment and media union Bectu said the U-turn on the BBC Singers was “welcome news” and that it will continue to engage with the BBC on alternate funding solutions and next steps for the orchestras.

“Let us not forget that these proposed cuts and others are occurring in the context of poorly-judged political decisions,” said Bectu boss Philippa Childs. “The government’s decision to freeze the license fee has made damaging cuts inevitable and the reality of this decision is job losses for talented and hardworking people, a loss of cultural output, and ultimately a reduced BBC, from which we all suffer.

“The BBC’s need to seek alternate funding solutions to retain the Singers while making necessary savings, only reinforces the need for a license fee that keeps pace with inflation and enables long-term planning and stability,” continued Childs.

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