The University of Sussex has spent approximately £120,000 on the refurbishment of the Meeting House organ, according to documents obtained by The Badger.
The refurbishment was paid for with money from the ‘Sussex Fund’ alongside central University funds.
The donor-supported Sussex Fund “helps and supports students who find themselves in unexpected financial difficulty”, while also helping provide scholarships to ensure the “brightest minds can study at Sussex irrespective of their economic background”, according to the University of Sussex website.
The fund has also been used to fund the ‘Learning to Lead’ programme, as well as used to help University Radio Falmer – the Students’ Union radio station.
According to The University, no more than ten percent of the refurbishment cost was met by the fund.
University of Sussex Students’ Union President Abraham Baldry has criticised The University’s decision to spend £120,000 on the organ’s restoration, describing it as an “enormous waste of money”.
He went on to say that the money would be better spent on “reducing class sizes, cutting the wait for the counselling service, or reducing campus rents.”
Money for the Sussex Fund is part-raised through a telephone fundraising campaign targeting alumni every autumn. Hundreds of alumni recieve calls asking them to donate.
Between 2014-2015 the Sussex Fund raised a sum of £217,000 from donations.
The refurbishment contract was awarded to Clevedon Organs (UK) Ltd and work began on the refurbishment earlier this year.
The organ was partially dismantled in mid-April when substantial elements were taken away to Clevedon’s workshop for refurbishment.
In early July, Clevedon returned the pipe organ back onto campus.
They then proceeded to spend approximately two months re-assembling the organ.
The organ was made in 1966 by Grant, Degens & Bradbeer. The University said, “Because of the organ’s historic significance and because of the specialist expertise required, its refurbishment was put out to competitive tender.
“The organ was made by Grant, Degens & Bradbeer and is considered to be an excellent example, of national importance, of the emerging school of neo-classical organ design and construction in Britain.
“It is particularly important as the number of completely new organs made in this style was small. Features of particular interest include the plate-glass enclosures and black finish to the organ console, which have been commented on by many observers and constitute part of its iconic and now historic significance.”
A University spokesperson has said that they believe “the organ will require nothing more than routine tuning for a further 30 years.”
By Joseph Petrovic