Bristol's music sets to remain in the city

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.”   The current service is heavily subsidised and this is no longer sustainable with £1.4m worth of savings needing to be made within the library service.   There are currently only 29 groups, not all based in the city, who are registered to hire the sets from the Central Library.
Bristol holds 900 vocal sets and 331 orchestral sets, which are currently located in a store at B Bond. When groups required further copies, staff would source these from different libraries around the country.
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.”
The current service available from Bristol’s Library Service will stop on March 31, and all registered groups have been notified.   Bristol Central Library will continue to support musicians with access to an extensive collection of single copy scores, CDs and music related texts. The service for drama groups is also continuing.

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