Resolution from foreign artists to protest brutal job cuts at the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service

"Iceland is a nation of culture. This is something that we, the undersigned, know well from our own experience. We are musicians from various countries and work in various fields – conductors, instrumentalists, composers; classical music, pop, jazz. What we all share is an experience of wonderful music-making for an audience of open-minded, intellectually curious listeners in Iceland.

We are writing this because we are deeply concerned for the future of the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RÚV). On 27 November 2013, 39 staff members were made redundant with immediate effect, with threats of 21 more to be announced soon. Rás 1, the cultural channel, has been the hardest hit – in particular its music department. Of the entire staff of music broadcasters, only two remain. There will be no specialists in baroque music, jazz, or contemporary music; no broadcast announcer for live concerts of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra; no tonmeister to produce classical music recordings.

Ever since the Icelandic Radio was founded in 1930, it has been the backbone of Icelandic cultural life. It has broadcast ambitious programs and recorded thousands of concerts. Its collection of sound recordings is an invaluable archive of musical performance in Iceland in the 20th and 21st centuries. We have all had the privilege of working with the excellent staff of RÚV; they have recorded and broadcast our concerts – in Háskólabíó, Harpa, Laugardalshöllin, and many other venues. We find it inconceivable that this fine tradition will not be continued.

We understand that Iceland is still facing a difficult economic situation. But we also appreciate the crucial role that RÚV has played in Iceland as the “university of the people” – a tool for facilitating discourse and bringing about a vision of an enlightened, educated society. The brutal job cuts at RÚV are not a necessity; they are a deeply misguided choice. They threaten to destroy a crucial component of Icelandic musical life. They reveal priorities that even go against the legal requirements of RÚV, which oblige the corporation to „fulfil the cultural needs“ of the Icelandic nation. We encourage the governing board of RÚV, the Icelandic parliament and the minister of culture to take action immediately. The world is watching."

Anthony Burr, clarinetist
Benjamin Koppel, saxophonist
Damien Rice, composer
Dave Douglas, trompetist
Gennady Rozhdestvensky, conductor
Hilary Hahn, violinist
John Abercrombie, guitarist
Kiri Te Kanawa, opera singer
Leif Ove Andsnes, pianist
Lennart Ginman, bassist and composer
Martin Fröst, clarinetist
Nico Muhly, composer
Osmo Vänskä, conductor
The Pacifica Quartet
Pekka Kuusisto, violinist
Rumon Gamba, conductor
Sigur Rós
Tord Gustavsen, pianist and composer
Viktoria Postnikova, pianist
Vladimir Ashkenazy, pianist and conductor
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