- "The Daily Mail sees me as a threat apparently," the musician wrote on Twitter.
Matthew Herbert has responded to tabloid criticism of his Brexit Big Band project.
On November 17th, the Daily Mail published a story—headlined "Pro-EU 'big band' that we pay for"—that referenced the project's receipt of funding from the UK Department For International Trade via music trade association BPI. (The Daily Telegraph and the BBC also reported on the grant.)
In response to the Daily Mail story, Herbert tweeted: "The Daily Mail sees me as a threat apparently. Happy to be part of the national conversation about what it means to be British." The musician then followed that up with a statement, issued earlier today, in which he said that the Brexit Big Band "is not an anti-Brexit project."
Herbert continued: "This is a project that, having accepted Brexit will occur, attempts to work out what a new kind of relationship with our European neighbours may look like. That relationship I believe should be founded on respect, curiosity, creativity, empathy, collaboration and love. I am unclear which of those ideals are controversial. This project is not simply one person's vision or pet project; it has already had contributions from over 1,000 people from here and from all over the world who think those values are worth nurturing."
On the topic of BPI funding, he wrote: "Having recently successfully applied to the BPI for part of a grant to assist with exporting British music abroad, some of the musicians fees will be covered by this. None of it is a wage or money to me. According to the BPI website every £1 they invest brings a return of £10 so it is clear that they consider this an investment rather than a subsidy. The state subsidises many things in this country, including a lot I don't agree with: wars in the Middle East, the arms trade, processed food manufacturers, giant American tech companies who avoid tax, the DUP, fossil fuel companies and so on. If parts of our democracy can't cope with an industry body supporting musicians in trying to bring ideas of tolerance and hopefully even some joy to others then maybe we're in worse shape than I thought."
Herbert's Brexit Big Band is an ongoing project—there's an album on the way, as well as gigs in Belgium, Germany, Greece, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.