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I issued the following press release on 09.06.2006


Local MP Lynne Jones, has castigated Birmingham City Council for not providing modest financial support to St Mary’s Choir for a prodigious cultural trip to the United States.

The St. Mary’s Choir, based at the historic 15th Century church in Moseley, has been invited to be Choir in Residence at Washington National Cathedral, Washington, DC, USA in August 2006.  In order to pay for the trip, the choir needs to raise a total of £47,000, and has so far successfully raised almost £42,000.  John McKinley, principle fundraiser for the Choir approached Lynne Jones to ask for help in getting a response from Birmingham City Council to his letter asking for the Council’s assistance.   After chasing up the then Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport, and Culture, Councillor John Alden for a reply, Lynne Jones received a letter stating that no funding stream was available for the choir as Washington DC was not a “partner city” with Birmingham.

Lynne Jones has since written to Ray Hassall, Cllr Alden’s successor, criticising the Council for their lack of foresight in not realising the potential benefits to Birmingham of Council involvement in this important opportunity to promote Birmingham’s cultural profile abroad.

Choir fundraiser, John McKinley said:  “St Mary’s are no strangers to representing Birmingham, as they have sung over the years in Frankfurt as part of the twinning arrangements between our two cities, and also at Sherborne Abbey, Bath Abbey and St Asaph’s Cathedral.

This trip will demonstrate the strong choral tradition that is part of the overall culture and arts of Birmingham.  This presentation of part of our arts and culture is combined with a wonderful opportunity to promote Birmingham as a city.  In addition to singing in front of the regular Washington congregation, the cathedral will also have many visitors from other parts of the United States and overseas.  This represents a tremendous opportunity to publicise the richness and strength of our own city to a wide audience.  The choir itself provides a vivid picture of an integrated community with our social and ethnic mix.“

Lynne Jones said: “I am dismayed at the lack of foresight in failing to realise the potential benefits to Birmingham of being involved in this wonderful opportunity to increase the City’s cultural profile abroad.  Considering the very small sum of money involved, the Council’s response is not acceptable and I hope Cllr Hassall will reverse his predecessor’s short-sighted decision”.



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