Britten–Pears Foundation and Snape Maltings announce their intention to merge to become the Benjamin Britten Foundation

22 March 2019

Read an update on the name of the new charity

The Britten–Pears Foundation and Snape Maltings are delighted to announce their intention to merge to create one organisation, the Benjamin Britten Foundation. The visions of these two charitable, sister organisations stem from the same founders – Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears – and bringing them together as one will significantly enhance their impact, reach, influence and engagement. The new unified organisation will not only provide new opportunities to promote and preserve Britten and Pears’ legacies but will also realise their original intent of bringing together the activities at The Red House and Snape Maltings into a single Foundation.

The Benjamin Britten Foundation will be a unique cultural institution, based in two remarkable and world-renowned locations, six miles apart in Aldeburgh and Snape, Suffolk. It will encompass music performance and artist development, composition, scholarship and research, education, visual arts and heritage, based on the values and extraordinary legacy of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears. The Benjamin Britten Foundation will bring together the comprehensive collections and archives at The Red House in Aldeburgh with the Concert Hall and creative campus at Snape Maltings which will continue to grow its role as an Arts Council England National Centre of Excellence, providing leadership in the fields of music and creative health, talent development and residencies.

The Britten–Pears Foundation and Snape Maltings have complementary aims and objectives and the synergies between them are deep and far reaching. Each organisation developed from the two charities founded and supported by Britten and Pears in their lifetimes: one to preserve and provide access to their library and collections at The Red House, which is the largest single composer archive in the UK, and the other to support performance and talent development at Snape Maltings.

The merger will be a positive and transformational moment in the Britten legacy, rooting Britten more strongly to Suffolk By joining forces they will have a greater impact on society and create a larger canvas on which to continue, develop and enhance their already vital work through a unique, new organisation in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

The Benjamin Britten Foundation will be able to promote Britten and Pears’ legacy and vision more effectively and consistently. This includes the performance of Britten’s music and new music, supporting composition and creativity, showcasing their art collection, manuscripts and archives, and wider cultural and learning activities celebrating their values and lives, centred around the built heritage at Snape and The Red House in Suffolk where Britten’s life and music was firmly embedded. Presenting their legacy in one overarching organisation, across both campuses, will provide a complete and focused story and encourage meaningful and broad cultural activity and education in, and beyond, its geographical and historical context.

The two boards intend to merge, and the new organisation will be co-chaired by Snape Maltings Chair, Sir Simon Robey and Britten–Pears Foundation Chair, Sir Vernon Ellis. Roger Wright, Chief Executive of Snape Maltings, will become the Chief Executive of the Benjamin Britten Foundation and Sarah Bardwell, Chief Executive of the Britten-Pears Foundation will become the Executive Director of the Benjamin Britten Foundation.

The full legal merger of the Britten–Pears Foundation and Snape Maltings to form the Benjamin Britten Foundation will take place by April 2020. However, in the meantime the two entities will increasingly work together not only to finalise the technical and legal processes of the merger but also immediately to realise the opportunities and synergies from bringing the organisations together.

Britten-Pears Foundation Chairman, Sir Vernon Ellis and Snape Maltings, Chairman, Sir Simon Robey commented, ‘Merging to create one foundation is an exciting and logical development for both organisations. Moving forwards as one organisation will enable us to sustain ourselves in to the future and to protect the legacy of Britten and Pears. We can’t wait to get started.’

Sarah Bardwell, Chief Executive of the Britten–Pears Foundation and Roger Wright Chief Executive of Snape Maltings commented, ‘It was Britten and Pears’ intention to have one foundation and by merging we will create new possibilities and opportunities to promote their legacies. Bringing together our activities allows us to expand the creative campus across both sites and to move forwards as a unified organisation which will continue to champion the heritage and archive at The Red House and to support performance and talent development at Snape Maltings.’

Composer Colin Matthews, Britten’s assistant in the 1970s and a founder trustee of the Britten–Pears Foundation said, ‘Britten and Pears were passionate in their wish to secure their legacy through the work of the bodies that they initiated.  A merger achieves exactly that in a remarkable fusion of the two organisations, and promises a very bright future for both.’