Psappha ensemble to close following withdrawal of Arts Council England funding

Psappha, the Manchester-based ensemble formed in 1991 to commission, perform and promote new music, has announced that it will close following the loss of its entire Arts Council England funding.

Since its founding, the organisation has supported composers at all stages of their careers, and through its ‘Composing For…’ scheme, launched in 2014, has worked directly with more than 140 emerging composers on brand new compositions, premiered on the group’s free-to-view YouTube channel. The group also launched its own record label in 1997 and was forging a new relationship with NMC Recordings.

At statement on the group’s website from chair Kate Stross, artistic director Benjamin Powell and managing director Sally Cook reads:

‘We write, with deep regret, to inform you that Psappha has made the very difficult decision to close.

‘The ensemble has had an outstanding history, and we still have plenty of ideas and plans for future projects. However, the loss of 100% of our regular public funding from Arts Council England, which constitutes around 40% of our income in an average year, has ultimately proven too great a challenge for an organisation of our size and scale to overcome, especially in such a difficult funding climate for the arts. We’ve worked tirelessly behind the scenes and considered every possible alternative, but we haven’t identified a realistic new funding model that would allow us to continue working to the high standards we’ve set ourselves over three decades of commissioning, performing and promoting new music.

‘We’d like to take this opportunity to extend our heartfelt thanks to you, our friends and supporters, who have been such an important part of our work over the years. We look back on more than 30 wonderful years since our organisation was founded by Tim Williams, and feel very proud of all that the group has achieved.

‘We’re committed to completing our current Composing For… scheme as planned, after which we will wind down the charity. This will take some time, and we will continue to be available for any questions or enquiries until we close – most likely around the end of this summer. If you have any questions, please contact and we will get back to you as soon as we can.’

Psappha’s first patron Peter Maxwell-Davies, former Master of the Queen’s Music, served for 20 years. More recently composer Mark-Anthony Turnage served as patron from 2018 to 2023. A PRS Foundation Talent Development Partner, Psappha has been based at Hallé St Michael’s, the former Italian Chapel in the central Manchester neighbourhood of Ancoats.

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