A controversial decision by the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund (MBF) to close an artists’ retirement home in Britain has been met with damning opposition.
Ivor House in Bromley, south London is the MBF’s only retirement home for elderly musicians. It was left to the MBF as a bequest by English pianist Ivor Newton in 1981 and it is currently home to around 15 musicians.
“The proposals are an outrage, these residents sold their own homes on the promise that they would be able to play out their last tune at Ivor Newton House, now they and their families rightly feel duped,” says UNISON branch secretary Glenn Kelly in a statement. The union is calling on the MBF to allow residents to remain in the home and for staff to keep their jobs.
John Smith, general secretary of the Musicians’ Union (MU), says in a statement: “The MU will concentrate on doing its utmost to support the current residents of Ivor Newton House whatever the decision. Most of the residents of are now in their nineties, and we would urge the MBF to respect their wishes and allow them to live out the rest of their lives in Ivor Newton House.”
The MBF assists around 1,500 musicians of any age who need help as a result of illness, accident or misfortune. It is one of the beneficiaries of the “Independents Day” album, released in July to mark the first annual celebration of U.K. indie acts and labels.
Following a review of residential care at the home, a final decision will be announced Aug. 5.
“It’s always distressing to have to consider the possible closure of a home, particularly one held in such affection as Ivor Newton House, but the MBF has to consider the best interests of all its beneficiaries and how best to apply its resources to their greatest long term benefit – particularly taking into account the provision of specialist care and the suitability of existing facilities,” says MBF chairman Richard Lyttelton in a statement.
“Before even considering a possible closure the MBF investigated thoroughly all the options and went through a comprehensive period of consultation,” he continues. “This consultation was extended beyond the legal requirement to include the views of residents and their relatives. It has taken fully into account all the representations that have been made and has made available to all those directly concerned its broader considerations.
“As always the MBF will continue to be mindful of its commitment to all those musicians it supports, including the residents of Ivor Newton House and will treat both residents and staff with utmost sensitivity whatever the decision.”
However, the residents are unconvinced. Len Davis says, “I have lived in Ivor Newton House since 2004 and there is no way I want to move.
“Ivor Newton House is entirely fit for purpose as far as the residents and staff are concerned, and has always received acceptable reports from the authorities,” Davis adds. “I would be very angry if the MBF, as a charity, decided to forcibly evict people from their home at this stage of their lives.”