Benenden manager unveils new musical facilities ‘for use by the community’

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A new 800-seat music room has been unveiled at a school which the principal says can be used by the community.

Benenden leader Samantha Price opened the independent school’s new facilities last week.

Benenden School Principal Samantha Price said she wanted the new facilities to be used by the whole community. Photo: Benenden School

The new Centenary Hall, an 800-seat multipurpose space is part of the new Centenary Buildings, along with a new music school – the Sir David KP Li School of Music – which includes more than 20 music practice rooms, a suite of music technology and a 120-seat recital hall for smaller shows.

In a speech at the official opening, Ms. Price spoke about the importance of music education.

She said the government needed to “sit down and fix” its underfunding of public schools which has left music vulnerable – even before the pressures of the current cost of living crisis.

Ms Price says the music is “transformative” for young people so she is scared after these cuts.

“As a nation, we cannot afford to view music as a ‘nice to have’ when it comes to educating our young people,” she said.

The new Benenden Centennial Hall.  Photo: Benenden School
The new Benenden Centennial Hall. Photo: Benenden School

“If there is no funding to support essential and transformational subjects such as music, I fear education will face a bleak future in our schools which would spell disaster for this country.

“Obviously, in this context, it is difficult to make the case for continued investment in music.

“And that’s a problem that the government needs to sit down and really address.

“If schools are so poorly funded that headteachers have to choose between hiring an extra head teacher or providing music clubs for their children, schools are clearly underfunded.”

The head of the independent girls’ school since 2014 promised that Benenden would do her best to help local schools that were struggling to provide music for their students.

The new Benenden School Centennial Buildings will host professional public performances.  Photo: Benenden School
The new Benenden School Centennial Buildings will host professional public performances. Photo: Benenden School

“It’s not just a building for Benenden. It’s up to the community to use it.

“If the music is worth investing in, then the community certainly is.”

Next year, this time, the school will celebrate its centenary, having opened its doors in September 1923.

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