Approximately 1,000 people gathered outside Reykjavík City Hall yesterday to protest the city authorities’ planned cutbacks to music lessons and the state and municipalities’ suggestions including age limitations in the musical education system.
Reykjavík City Hall. Photo by Páll Kjartansson.
“I am an optimist and believe that until proven otherwise, the state and municipalities can reach a solution agreeable to all so that the musical education system will survive and I hope that Reykjavík City will become a leading force in that matter,” said Sigrún Grendal, chairwoman of the Association of Music Teachers, in her speech, Morgunbladid reports.
Demonstrators booed at Mayor Jón Gnarr when he wanted to speak during the protest meeting. After the meeting Reykjavík City released a statement saying that all means will be sought to further musical education for children and teenagers. City authorities haven’t made any decision on canceling support for older music students, the statement added.
Grendal pointed out that as the country’s capital, Reykjavík has a significant responsibility towards nationwide musical education. Proportionally there are many more secondary school students in Reykjavík than elsewhere in the country. “For a city which likes to identify itself through art and culture, it isn’t a small resource.”
Reykjavík City’s expenses are to be cut by 18 percent in 2011. According to Grendal, the overall cutbacks to musical education will be 38 percent since the banking collapse in October 2008.
On top of that the state and municipalities are now negotiating on sharing the cost of music lessons which in reality means that musical education will be cut-off at the age of 20, Grendal reasoned.
“The operational basis of singing schools and schools with large singing departments would be overthrown and I find it highly likely that some of them would have to shut down completely,” Grendal stated.
Protestors demanded that the nature and structure of musical education be taken into account during the talks.