Durham Cathedral & County Durham Community Foundation announce partnership

03 December 2010

Durham Cathedral and County Durham Community Foundation are pleased to announce the creation of a music endowment fund to be held by the County Durham Community Foundation. Its specific aim is to provide sustainable funding for the Cathedral’s acclaimed Music Outreach Programme and to provide bursaries to Cathedral Choristers. Donations have already been received including a gift from Sting. These generous gifts are just the beginning, more is needed. A target of £3 million has been set which will allow the music outreach work to continue at its current level with some potential for expansion, and will provide full annual bursary support for up to ten choristers.

The Cathedral started its now acclaimed Music Outreach Programme in 2003 working with Sunderland Local Authority Primary Schools. The Programme now works with schools in Durham, South Tyneside and Sunderland, with other local authorities wanting to become involved. Each around 800 children benefit from the programme. From 2006 to earlier this year, the Music Oureach Programme received funding from the Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) as part of the Government’s ‘Sing Up’ programme, a scheme designed to encourage all primary school age children to sing. Grants were distributed by the Choir Schools’ Association (CSA) as a national delivery partner. This funding is no longer available but Durham Cathedral is determined to keep its highly successful music outreach work going. Durham Cathedral Young Singers, its community choir for 8 to 13 year olds is part of this work.

Barbara Gubbins, Chief Executive of the County Durham Community Foundation says , “Local primary school children benefit through outreach work, as they experience the joy of singing and the giving of pleasure to others through music making. Participating in music making can boost confidence and encourage positive social skills. In a region with above average levels of social deprivation, enabling projects to take place that encourage children to increase their aspirations and achieve more is vital to the well being of our communities.”

An unexpected benefit of the Music Outreach Programme is the coming forward of a number of local children who show potential as gifted and talented musicians. Some of these children want to become choristers themselves although their families aren’t necessarily in a position to send a child to The Chorister School, the prep school where all the Cathedral Choristers are educated. All choristers receive a 50% scholarship to attend the school but some families need additional help. The endowment fund being created at the Community Foundation will not only provide security to the future of the Music Outreach Programme but it will also enable children who wouldn’t otherwise be able to be a Cathedral Chorister to have the opportunity to reach their musical potential.

The Very Reverend Michael Sadgrove, The Dean of Durham says, “ I am delighted and grateful that the County Durham Community Foundation is helping us take forward our plan to provide a permanent endowment for the Cathedral’s music. This will be a gift for future generations, not only to those who come to services and concerts in the Cathedral but across a far wider front where we want to continue to share with others what we are so privileged to enjoy here day by day.”

If you would like to donate to the fund please contact Christina Rackley at the County Durham Community Foundation christina@cdcf.org.uk or 0191 378 6345. Alternatively see www.cdcf.org.uk or contact Gaye Kirby gaye.kirby@durhamcathedral.co.uk or 0191 375 1222.