The Philharmonia Orchestra

The Philharmonia Orchestra and funding partners launch £1m Endowment Fund for Bedford residency 

  • Joint funding from Arts Council England, Bedford Borough Council and The Harpur Trust guarantee future of 20-year residency 
  • Orchestra is delighted to have secured a sustainable funding model for its longest-running regional residency 
  • Orchestra launches three-year campaign to raise £250,000 to complete Endowment Fund

The Philharmonia Orchestra today announces the creation of a new £1m Endowment Fund that will guarantee the future of its critically-acclaimed 20-year-old residency at Bedford Corn Exchange, and allow the Orchestra to continue bringing the very finest artists to Bedford, which in the recent past have included Vladimir Ashkenazy, Steven Isserlis and Sir Andrew Davis.

In a closely coordinated joint project, Bedford Borough Council and The Harpur Trust each contributed £125,000, with Arts Council England very generously pledging £2 for every £1 granted, taking ACE’s total contribution to £500,000. The Orchestra is launching a major new fundraising campaign to raise £250,000, which will take the Fund total to its initial target of £1 million.

This £1 million will form the foundation of the Endowment Fund, the annual return from which will be used to part-fund the Philharmonia’s residency and local education programme in perpetuity, replacing what had been generated from annual local government funding.

The Bedford Endowment Fund represents a sustainable funding model for the Orchestra’s work in Bedford, and is a pioneering new way to fund the arts in perpetuity. David Whelton, Managing Director of the Philharmonia Orchestra, said:

“The Philharmonia Orchestra’s formation of a residency in Bedford in 1995 was a pioneering move for the Orchestra and its success has since been replicated in cities throughout the UK. We are continuing to innovate in Bedford with this new and sustainable funding model, which will allow us to continue bringing the very best of what we do in London and internationally to Bedford. 

The Philharmonia Orchestra has a very special relationship with the town of Bedford, a relationship which has grown deeper with each year. We are delighted that Bedford Borough Council and The Harpur Trust have shown such a visionary approach to sustaining the residency.”

Joyce Wilson, Area Director, London, Arts Council England, said: “We are really pleased to have been able to support the Philharmonia Orchestra’s ambition to continue its 20-year residency at Bedford Corn Exchange, alongside Bedford Borough Council and The Harpur Trust. This is a great example of how organisations can look at innovative ways in which they can diversify their income.”

David Russell, the Chief Executive of The Harpur Trust, commented: “The Harpur Trust is delighted to help keep the Philharmonia, a world class orchestra, as part of the extensive cultural life of Bedford.  We also look forward to seeing the wider educational activities of Orchestra’s residency enrich the lives of all the residents of the Borough.” 

Mayor of Bedford Borough Dave Hodgson said: “This is great news for both local music lovers and local taxpayers. The Philharmonia plays an important and very popular role in the annual programme of events and performances at Bedford Corn Exchange. This initiative will provide a sustainable future for world-class local concerts and educational activity without the need for a long-standing annual Council subsidy.