Actor backs South Yorkshire band in financial crisis

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FILM and television star Stephen Tompkinson is brassed off about the lack of funding threatening the future of a South Yorkshire band.

The cash-strapped band, whose struggle for survival during the miners’ strike of 1984 provided inspiration for the film Brassed Off, has announced it needs an influx of funding to cover costs.

Stephen, who played a trombonist in the Brassed Off film version of the band’s story, criticised the Arts Council for giving just £46,000 of funding to the British Federation of Brass Bands from its budget last year.

He said: “I wonder if they have ever visited Grimethorpe or heard Grimethorpe play? As musicians they are as skilled as any orchestra in the world. We need whoever is in charge of these cutbacks to review them and stop the disparity between orchestras. We need sponsors for them.

“Maybe members of the Royal family could give them a Royal patronage – they could be the Royal Grimethorpe Colliery Band and that would help.

“They’ve played at the White House, they’ve been all over, and they never fail to put a smile on people’s faces.”

The band used to receive sponsorship from a private mining firm, but the money dried up in 2010.

Manager Nigel Dixon says he and his army of 28 musicians – almost all of whom have full-time jobs outside the band – will be unable to continue with their current workload, and providing music lessons for children in the Barnsley community, unless they can fill a financial black hole of £30,000.

Mr Dixon said: “We have already had a number of responses following the story breaking, especially as people were really enthused by our commitment to providing free musical tuition to children in what is one of the most socially deprived areas of the country.”

Michael Dugher, MP for Barnsley East, has blasted ‘snobbery at the heart of Whitehall’ for funding shortfalls.

Brassed Off was released in 1996 and also starred Ewan McGregor and Pete Postlethwaite. Members of the band were in the film and recorded its soundtrack.

* Should the Arts Council give brass band more money? Email: letters@thestar.co.uk