GAM announced as county council chairman’s Charity of the Year
Chair of the county council, Councillor Alan Preest, has chosen a musical venture which began life in the Forest of Dean 40 years ago as his Charity of the Year.
The former Forest bandsman from Lydney has adopted GAM, founded in 1982 in the Churcham kitchen of musician Caroline Lumsden.
Music will be put at the top of the agenda by Councillor Preest in a bid to halt the dramatic decline of students studying the creative arts.
This is a great opportunity to stem the decline of music education certainly in Gloucestershire through helping GAM raise its profile and put down permanent roots as a vibrant education centre for the artsAlan Preest, Chair of Gloucestershire County Council
GAM, which is bucking the national trend with its 2,000-plus student numbers, is now based at Barbican House, near the docks, where it operates a diverse and vibrant arts education centre housing the Flowers Band, Gloucestershire Boys’ Choir, Nethra Academy of Performing Arts, ballet and gamelan workshops amongst others.
Academy Principal, Glyn Oxley, stressed the need for music in our lives, saying:
The importance of music education has been really highlighted since the pandemic, not only from a mental health perspective but as a life skill, which in the past we have just taken for granted. Being the Chairman’s chosen Charity of the Year gives us a great opportunity to set up a permanent and sustainable multi-arts education centre for the county – and is the first step for us extending our reach to other parts of Gloucestershire. It’s hugely significant that the county council chairman has placed GAM and music on the agenda.Glyn Oxley, GAM Principal
A full calendar of GAM events during Councillor Preest’s time in office has already featured a high-profile family concert at Pittville Pump Room on 16th October headlining GAM’s famous former students. There was also an intimate soiree with GAM’s president, Professor Derek Aviss, on cello. On 11th December there will be further celebrations with the Big 40th Birthday Bash at Cheltenham Town Hall, involving 250 GAM musicians and dancers.
In spring there will be a series of events involving hundreds of young players performing at Tewkesbury Abbey, as well as concerts and performances by GAM’s partners, Flowers Band and Nethra Academy of Performing Arts whose students marked their Vijayadashami celebrations on 5th November with performances to raise money for GAM.
During its 40th Anniversary year, GAM plans to put down permanent roots in the city by buying the building from the City Council. It has already raised over £400,000 towards its overall £500,000 goal.
GAM has an ambitious vision to extend its current teaching centres at Gloucester and Cheltenham to other districts – including Cirencester and the Forest of Dean, where it all began.
Founder, Caroline Lumsden, said
Having started my career as a primary school teacher I saw first-hand the joy that music lessons and the ability to play instruments brought to children as well as a sense of purpose at being part of a musical family. The statistics showed, back in the 70s, that children who played instruments achieved better grades as they grew in stature with a new-found confidence and discipline from being part of an orchestra or band. That is still true today. Funding needs to be found to give every child this opportunity and GAM will be keen to support this.Caroline Lumsden, GAM Founder