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MP Visits Woolpack and Demands More Investment in Music Education

Alex Sobel MP visited the Woolpack Arts and Education Centre seeing the recording, rehearsal, teaching and performance spaces which operate despite deep cuts to the Arts.


The Woolpack was opened in 2011 by the Big Hoo-ha Company, a community interest organisation led by director Richard Sabey. Alex Sobel, Otley’s new MP, has made offering his support a priority utilising his wide experience of grant funding and social investment from leading the regional body for not for profit enterprises prior to entering Parliament.

Alex also heard about the rock school giving children an opportunity to learn instruments, write songs and pursue their dreams. He was delighted a new programme for 9-11 year olds was being setup to encourage younger children to take up music.


Alex said “The arts and arts education has been decimated by this government in recent years. Arts council England has lost-in real terms £7.2m grant in aid since 2010- add to that the £214m cut to Leeds City Council- that’s 47% of its core funding- and you get an idea of what the Woolpack and other centres for the arts are up against.”

“The great work that Richard and Jen (Birch, Centre Manager) are doing at the Woolpack, even in the most difficult of circumstances, shows just how important it is to involve people, especially the young, in the arts. To engage young people in learning we need to work through a variety of mediums - such as music, sport, drama and art. Maths and literacy are extremely important, but a well-rounded education has to include more.”


“The Woolpack is a cornerstone of the community and we need to make sure that places like this are secure for generations to come. That’s why I'm backing Labour’s plan to reverse these cuts and create an ‘arts pupil premium’ in schools so that every child has the opportunity to pick up an instrument and learn.”

Richard Sabey said “We are always looking for creative ways to widen our offer and reach more young people. With budgets so tight, securing funding is more competitive than ever so we are happy that Alex is willing to offer us his support. We love working with people of all ages across the community to make sure we keep Otley a vibrant and happy place to live.”

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