Library closures threaten arts groups

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AMATEUR theatre and music groups have said that they fear for their futures as a result of plans to axe a specialist library service that provides scripts and scores to societies across Yorkshire.

The collection, which is based at Balne Lane Library in Wakefield and is currently supported by 12 local authorities across Yorkshire ,is facing closure because of cutbacks.

Campaigners say the music and drama library is a valuable resource with an extensive collection of play scripts and items of music used by amateur theatre groups, school and college drama groups and singers and musicians.

In a letter sent to local councillors, Paul Dewhurst, of Pontefract, a conductor, says: “The unique collection of scores held in one central location by Wakefield is absolutely invaluable to the societies that I represent.”

He says it holds music that is out of print and also has scores in a variety of styles and from different periods.

Pam Wilson, an actress, singer and teacher says in a letter that its closure would be a “catastrophe” and without it many groups will not be able to function.

Members of The Yorkshire Libraries and Information (YLI) Collection have backed the closure plans in principle at a meeting. It was also agreed that a review team would look at how the collection could remain available to the public from April 2012. A further meeting will be held next Thursday.

A statement on behalf of the service said: “The reduced demand for the service across all 12 Authorities and the consequent fall in use and income has meant that the service is no longer financially viable in its current form.

“The 12 local authorities who currently subscribe to the service, Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Doncaster, East Riding of Yorkshire, Kirklees, Leeds, North Yorkshire, Rotherham, Sheffield, Wakefield and York, enabling their local groups to enjoy subsidised loans of materials, are no longer able to bridge the gap between income and expenditure.

“All 12 support the decision to end the service,” the statement added.