FORMER members of award-winning Scottish street orchestra the Nevis Ensemble have launched a hardship fund after the organisation was forced to close due to “severe funding challenges”.

The group specialised in pop-up performances and appeared in schools, supermarkets, museums, children’s parks, train stations and homeless centres.

Peter Phelan, who played the cello in the group, is one of the organisers behind the fund, which so far has raised almost £8000.

Speaking to The National, he said: “It’s been a rough few weeks. We were given really last-minute notice of the insolvency, and to be honest we’ve all been kind of reeling the past few weeks scrambling to find work.

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“After a bit of talking to some friends I decided to put a fundraiser together to see if we could get some support for a temporary hardship fund.

“It’s about giving people a breather while they try to get back on their feet and we’ve been floored by the generosity of the people who have donated. It’s an amazing show of support.”

In a statement released by the former fellows, they say that they were promised an annual bursary of £11,000 paid in instalments of £1000 at the end of each month.

The statement claims that the organisation behind the group “failed to pay the most recent bursary instalment, covering our work for the month of January”.

It added that they were only given 24 hours notice of the group’s insolvency, “leaving many of us without our primary source of income”.

Phelan said that members have sought support from the Musicians' Union and Independent Society of Musicians and that they are unlikely to see that money recouped.

The National repeatedly approached the Board of Trustees who ran the ensemble for comment but did not receive a reply.

A statement posted on their website last month read: “Following severe funding challenges, Nevis Ensemble is no longer able to deliver its activities.”

The National: The Glasgow-based group used to perform events in the communityThe Glasgow-based group used to perform events in the community (Image: Julia Fisher)

The closure comes at a difficult time for the arts sector with many musicians feeling the effects of the cost of living.

Evangelos Saklaras, who played double bass, said: “As musicians, we all come from different backgrounds. Some of us are in different stages of our lives and our career.

“One thing for sure is that this has a big implication in everyone’s life. Some people may have more of a safety net around them than others.

“Others maybe don’t and they’re in a more vulnerable situation but everybody is concerned and worried. There is a lot of uncertainty about how we’re going to deal with our immediate financial responsibilities.”

For Jennifer Moss, who was the group’s clarinettist, the saddest part is that this was many of the group’s entry into the industry.

“I think there are certainly trends in the general music sector that tell us some are finding it difficult to go professional”, she explained.

“I don’t think this is the case with the Nevis Ensemble because we believed so strongly in what we were doing. There is such a need to spread music in our communities.

“What’s a shame is that this is people’s first experience of doing this work and it has ended in financial hardship.

“I’m less concerned about whether it will drive people away and more concerned about the immediate financial situation so this fund is really about enabling people to deal with short-term financial situations and kind of give them a bit of brain space to work out how we can move forward.”

In their statement published last month, the trustees said: “The Board of Trustees would like to take this opportunity to thank the musicians and staff from over the years who have embraced the vision of Nevis Ensemble, and especially thank the many trusts, foundations, partners and individual donors who have made the journey possible.”

The hardship fund can be viewed HERE