The ‘leaked’ email from BBC Singers producer Jonathan Manners (which probably isn’t leaked) is a depressing read. It provides a string of evidence that confirms what I’d previously only suspected or imagined. This isn’t it seems the stuff of a cheap BBC One drama. It’s actual real life. Somebody with little interest in their work, little passion for music has stepped into an organisation and trampled over the flower bed.
I find this list of issues difficult to read. It reminds me of a period in the early 80s when my Dads business – our family’s livelihood – was at the mercy of a family member seeking to destroy the business whilst Dad was hospitalised. Then there was the project manager at the BBC and his best mate who watched a website launched before proceeding to inform the team it was going to be decommissioned. These and a couple of other examples that are too close to the bone to detail pose one overriding question: what motivates you to be so destructive? Pleasure? Joy? Pride? Or if it’s none of those things, what did you do to get yourself in this position? Was it worth it?
Then there’s the growing worry about who knew what when. Was there a possibility (likely) that those who left – R3 Controller Alan Davey, Edward Blakeman, Head of Comms for Performing Groups and Proms all knew what was going on? Did they participate in it? Did they collude? Is that why they left? And of those who remained … were they a part of it too? And, just how awful will this years Proms be?
What links these things is a sense of powerlessness. What good is writing about this really going to have? The majority won’t know, the minority don’t need it and the decision makers don’t care. ENO, Britten Sinfonia, BBC Singers. It’s a clear warning about the future. And there’s nothing I can do about it. I’ll hold my hands up, I find that difficult (even though it seems ridiculous too).
Elsewhere on the internet an old school friends kid is rehearsing in an orchestra ahead of the Kings Coronation, on the one hand I’m pleased for her. Proud. On the other hand I think, what’s the point? Our leaders and decision makers are signalling this stuff is worthless.
We need an advocate. Someone who loves art, who proudly articulates that love. Someone who inspires. A leader. We need another Bernstein. Doing this alone without a big hitter is exhausting.