Music libraries – Surrey and Bristol: what you can do now

Support these essential resources for music groups by taking action


New user-led charity NewSPAL is bidding to take on the running of the Surrey Performing Arts Library (SPAL) from Surrey County Council (SCC). The decision will be taken by SCC Cabinet, but not as previously anticipated on 27 March – the relevant meeting will now be on Tuesday 24 April, 2pm, in Kingston.

What can you do?

  1. Whether you’re a Surrey resident or someone from further afield who uses SPAL, you can complete the survey by 25 April to enable NewSPAL to demonstrate that users support its bid and are willing to help with the transition, both in terms of practical help and in terms of fundraising for the set-up budget (which SCC won’t fund).

Making Music believes NewSPAL’s proposals are the best option for users in Surrey and beyond and would secure the future of the collection more than SCC’s alternative proposal, which would see SPAL split into two libraries without any dedicated or specialised staff. We think this would inevitably lead to rapid deterioration of the stock, and would also continue to leave the collection at risk in future SCC library cuts.

You can find out more about NewSPAL on their website.

  1. If you are a Surrey resident, attend the Cabinet meeting on 24 April if you can. The papers for it will be published on 16 April here. This topic may only be a small part of that meeting, but the physical presence of voters at a council meeting always makes a strong impression on politicians!
  1. If you are a Surrey resident, write to your councillor and/or Denise Turner-Stewart, the Cabinet member with responsibility for libraries, with your views and whether you support NewSPAL’s bid.


The decision had been taken to close the music sets service in Bristol by 31 March 2018, but users were not happy that ‘their’ collection was being given away to or cherry-picked by Somerset Performing Arts Library, and would cost them more to access in future.

Following an intervention by Making Music, Bristol City Council started a conversation with Bristol Plays Music, the music education hub for Bristol part of Bristol Music Trust, which also runs the Colston Hall. There is now an offer on the table from them to house the collection and make it accessible to adult community music groups and young people in Bristol. We are hopeful that there will be a positive outcome to these discussions.

What you can do

If the future of the music sets collection is a topic of interest to you, please subscribe to this email group and communicate directly with others in Bristol with similar concerns.

You are the strongest link

Making Music can facilitate, coordinate and broker relationships, but ultimately it is you who make or break these campaigns. We can help you help yourselves, so do please call on us when you discover a local issue which threatens the future of your group.