Earlier this month, BBC Radio 3 announced that beginning this fall, the station will no longer broadcast two of its jazz programs, reduce a world music show’s run time in half, and cut the long-running experimental music program Late Junction from three days per week to one. The station’s controller attributed the changes, in part, to BBC losing several hundred million pounds in funding after the Conservative-controlled government slashed subsidies for the public broadcasting company’s television arm. Now, more than 500 musicians, artists, writers, scholars, publicists, and others have signed an open letter protesting Radio 3’s decision.
The letter argues BBC’s changes would hurt working musicians, points out the programming cuts come as British jazz is undergoing something like a renaissance, and notes that Late Junction in particular sold out its inaugural London festival less than a month ago. To wit:
Our culture benefits so much from these programmes. Music lovers tune in to make new discoveries and build new creative communities. Music makers rely on these shows as lifelines to support and share their music with enthusiastic audiences, nationally and internationally. New works and unexpected collaborations have happened either directly or indirectly due to these shows. This flourishing cultural ecosystem will be damaged, and musicians’ careers profoundly affected, as opportunities for their work to be experienced by the mainstream will be drastically reduced, at home and abroad.
Signatories include Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Holly Herndon, Peaches, and Ed O’Brien; editors of The Wire, Jazzwise, Resident Advisor, and the Quietus; representatives from Rough Trade, Hyperdub, and Domino; and instructors from over a dozen colleges. The letter does not make any demands but urges BBC Radio 3 to “think again about the changes they are making, and how they will profoundly affect our broader culture.”