Radio 3 campaign galvanises the artistic community

  • Over 550 people sign open letter to the BBC regarding planned cuts to Radio 3
  • Signatories are from across the arts, music and media, including Shirley Collins, Jarvis Cocker, Ed O’Brien, Phil Selway, Peaches, Shabaka Hutchings, Joanna Macgregor OBE, Asif Khan, Norma Waterson, Martin Carthy, Brian Eno, Nikki Yeoh, Iwona Blazwick and Kieran Hebden.
  • Media outlets including Spin, The Wire, The Quietus, NTS covering the news
The campaign to save BBC Radio 3’s specialist programming has burst into the public consciousness this week. The passion it has inspired from across the creative world, and from a huge range of music fans, has been truly something to see. 
An open letter signed by over 550 names from across the music and arts world, has gone to  the BBC – and naturally, multiple petitions and a Facebook group have sprung up (links below).
Here, some of the people involved in the campaign describe what’s driving them:
Luke Turner, author and founder, The Quietus: “It increasingly feels that we’re living in a world where cultural life is determined by the faceless algorithms of the big tech platforms, and where the human connection – one that thrives on the unusual, the spontaneous, the difficult – is being ground away. It’s been inspiring and hugely cheering over the past few days to see the music and arts community come together to sign this open letter to the BBC opposing their cuts on Radio 3’s music schedules, their names and wishes of goodwill flooding into our inboxes. As much as it is a protest against this short-sighted position, the actions of these hundreds of artists, writers, curators and so on is a defiant assertion that we want our culture to stay challenging, diverse and available to all free at source, regardless of wealth or opportunity.”
Jude Rogers, music writer and broadcaster: “On Saturday, still ranting and raving about the announced cuts to Radio 3’s brilliant specialist music programming, we hit on the idea of what could be done: a huge open letter campaign. This would be written for, and passed onto, many musicians operating in many genres – folk, jazz, experimental music, electronics and beyond – and other people who work in these worlds. We wanted to send a letter for the people for whom these decisions will have a huge impact, limiting the opportunities for them to create, perform and collaborate, as brilliantly as they do, in the BBC’s nationally-broadcast mainstream.
“Within hours, a fire had taken hold. On Sunday, with the brilliant help of artist and composer Mira Calix, I put together the open letter sent to Radio 3. On Sunday night, Mira, Luke Turner (writer of this brilliant Guardian piece about the cuts to Late Junction), Joe Muggs (a huge supporter of all genres in his writing, DJing and music-making) and I started sending it out to our peers. Then their peers started sending it out to their peers. By Monday morning, we were completely overwhelmed. By Wednesday, when our letter was published in The Guardian and sent to the relevant people at the BBC, it was viral across social media, and had already crossed the Atlantic with reporting in SPIN.
“561 artists have now signed this open letter – and the interest is still snowballing. They include hugely well-known people in their fields like Shirley Collins, Jarvis Cocker, Kieran Hebden, Peaches, Cleveland Watkiss, Ed O’Brien and Phil Selway from Radiohead, Brian Eno, Colin Mathews OBE, Shabaka Hutchings, Kieran Hebden aka Four Tet, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Peter Gabriel, Nikki Yeoh, Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos, the Waterson-Carthy family, Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory, Issie Barrett, grime stars Scrufizzer and Grandmixxer, Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite, Kit Downes, Alexis Taylor from Hot Chip, Holly Herndon and Portishead’s Adrian Utley. They include hugely exciting rising stars like Gazelle Twin, Lisa O’Neill, Seckou Keita, Hannah Peel, Alex Neilson, Lori Watson and Laura Cannell, among many others. They include managers and creative directors of national institutions like the Edinburgh Festival, Sound UK, WOMAD and the London Borough of Culture, huge venues like London’s Roundhouse, and local powerhouses like Cardigan’s Theatr Mwldan. They include label bosses like Laurence Bell of Domino, and Jeannette Lee and Geoff Travis from Rough Trade (who called the decisions “a national travesty”). International pioneers like composer Laurie Spiegel and early Kraftwerk collaborator Emil Schult also lent their passionate support.
“What this shows us more than anything is how vital these lifelines are to so much music, and musicians, in the UK and worldwide. So many people love these programmes – including younger audiences, who make Late Junction such a hugely popular show. We urge Radio 3 to reconsider their decisions in light of these signatures, and support the spirit of creativity and collaboration that makes our broader culture so vital.”
Mira Calix, Artist, Composer: “As an artist, I have appreciated and benefited from the support and exposure Late Junction has given me over the years, but it’s really as a listener that I have gained the most! Every episode brings new discoveries, demolishing any perceived cultural and musical divides, bringing us, the music lovers, together in an appreciation of the truly innovative and experimental.  Its influence is both great and profound, and while I welcome progress and new commissions, it doesn’t have to be at the expense of the good work the BBC does in supporting diversity and creating communities. A reduction of airtime for this much loved and internationally regarded program, would be a great blow to the arts in general and to me personally.” 
Joe Muggs, writer / DJ: “I’ve been listening to Radio 3’s experimental programming for more than half my life – the jazz and world shows, Late Junction, and before that Mixing It – and it has brought me joy and constant education in equal measure. Its presenters’ and producers’ erudition and lightness of touch have always been humbling and inspiring, proving over and over again that grime, folk, noise, jazz and all the other styles can exist together on a plane of consistency. It has consistently reminded us that even the most out-there sound can be a source of pure pleasure – and most crucially of all, that the journey of discovery with music and culture never ends. It’s been an antidote to jadedness many times, and the source of more discoveries and lines of investigation than I can say. This is not merely about protecting something worthy: these shows are truly, and deeply, loved.”
Ed Handley, Musician, Plaid: “Late Junction shared music I couldn’t imagine from places I’ll never be, so many unexpected, inspiring sounds over the years. We need more not less.”
Benedict Drew, Artist, Musician: “Late Junction stands as pillar of excellence amongst an ever homogenising cultural landscape, where, as listeners we can engage, learn and immerse ourselves in the expertise of the producers and presenters, where diverse and experimental music can be presented at a world class standard. It is a public service to both listeners and producers.  Now more than ever we must celebrate the marginal, the experimental, the difficult and the overlooked. Late Junction gives a vital platform for such cultural production, presenting an editorial to the noise of the long tail of the Internet, an antidote to the algorithmic playlist culture.” 
Peter Liversidge, Artist: “This is no way to celebrate Late Junction’s 20th Anniversary, three days a week is minimum required listening. Late Junction is a portal to discovery, in every 90 minute program there is something that I’ve never heard before that makes me sit up and pay attention. It is vital that it is celebrated and kept as a unique broadcasting experience, introducing and championing the known and the unknown with equal enthusiasm, reducing it’s broadcasts from three to one is opposite to the direction it should be going in. Late Junction is the best thing on the BBC, nothing comes close, I would listen to it every night if it were on, perfect radio.”  
Sarah Nicholls, Musician: “BBC Radio 3 has long championed new, daring, inventive music, stretching classical into other connected spheres. Late Junction is a flagship programme for this and is hugely important and popular. The BBC’s support is vital to share and expose the best new art music in the UK.”

Leave a Reply