A primary focus of the ABO is advocacy and campaigning on behalf of its members.
The ABO meets regularly during the year with representatives from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England, and advocates on behalf of its members to other government departments. It co-ordinates regular meetings of its Scottish and Welsh members and maintains a dialogue with Creative Scotland, the Scottish Government, and Arts Council of Wales.
Current public affairs work includes:
Orchestras Everywhere is a public-facing social media campaign which aims to demolish the myth that orchestras are only enjoyed by a small number of people. The reality is, they are at the centre of globally popular entertainment: the best of the best, that you can hear when you watch, play, visit or listen, making everyday life special.
Orchestra Tax Relief The ABO successfully lobbied for the extension of creative tax relief to orchestras, which was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 2014 Autumn Statement. The ABO worked with the Treasury and HMRC on its implementation from 1 April 2016, and has produced guidance and training for its members.
The All-Party Parliamentary Classical Music Group brings together parliamentarians who have an interest in and wish to further the appreciation of classical music; acts as an interface between British orchestras' on and off-stage activities, the wider classical music industry, including broadcasters and the recording industry, and key decision makers and opinion formers; and looks at the potential for establishing parliamentary classical music awards and promoting and supporting young musicians. The ABO serves as the group's secretariat.
Government Consultations The ABO responds to government consultations on behalf of its members. Recent submissions include consultations on the BBC Charter renewal, the Migration Advisory Committee, Gift Aid Donor Benefits and the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee inquiry into funding for the Arts and Heritage.
Instruments on Planes The ban on musical instruments being taken through security and carried on as hand luggage on planes was lifted in September 2006 after many discussions with the Department of Transport. The ABO continues to work with the ISM and MU on securing a common policy for airlines at national and European level.
Visas for Visiting Artists The ABO participated in the UK Border Agency's Arts & Entertainment Taskforce, to ensure that the Points Based System for migrants wishing to work in the UK on both a permanent and temporary basis did not pose a threat to the engagement of orchestral musicians, conductors and soloists. It regularly submits responses to the Migration Advisory Committee’s calls for evidence and has successfully argued for the inclusion of orchestral musicians on the Shortage Occupation List.
Musicians Union The ABO negotiates with the Musicians Union on an annual basis on issues relating to fees and allowances for freelance musicians, and works in partnership with the MU on a range of issues including better working relations between managers and musicians.
International Relations The ABO keeps in touch with international developments in the orchestral sector through regular contact with associations and conferences in other countries. It is a member of the European Orchestras Forum and International Alliance of Orchestral Associations.
Pearle* The ABO and its members benefit hugely from membership of Pearle*, Live Performance Europe, which helps the ABO keep track of legislative developments within the EU. Click here to visit their website. The ABO regularly attends meetings of PEARLE members and the Live Performance Sector Social Dialogue Committee meetings in Brussels.
Previous advocacy work includes:
Class 1 National Insurance Contributions on the fees of freelance musicians. During 2006/07 this engendered considerable national TV, radio and press coverage, significant attention in the House of Commons and frequent meetings with Arts Council England, Musicians’ Union and HMRC. The issue appeared resolved in July 2007, but re-emerged in 2012. The ABO was successful in working in partnership with the MU to resolve the problem and in lobbying for repeal of the Entertainer Regulations in 2014.
Communications Campaigns Between 2009 and 2011 the ABO worked with DHA Communications to raise the profile of British orchestras in the run-up to the Comprehensive Spending Review in 2010. The campaign aimed to work with ABO members to get statistics to back the key campaign themes; develop an external network of advocates; ensure the impact and value of the orchestras’ work was communicated through media and targeted publications; map the developing policy agenda regarding music and arts as it relates to the campaign themes; position the ABO, and its members, as a model of excellence; and intervene in emerging policy debates to ensure the strength of the ABO’s voice was maximised. A series of briefings were published which can be found on the Publications page.
Comprehensive Spending Reviews Following campaigning by the ABO in partnership with DJH Associates, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport announced an increase in funding for Arts Council England in October 2007 for the funding round 2008-2011. The ABO’s work in advocating the value of public investment in orchestras, in partnership with DHA Communications, led to maintained investment in orchestras in Arts Council England’s funding round for 2012-2015.
Control of Noise at Work Regulations The ABO continues to monitor the impact of the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 on British orchestras and was a member of the Health & Safety Executive's Music & Entertainment Sector Working Group, which developed guidance for the music and entertainment industry.
Cultural Olympiad The ABO worked with a range of partners in Music Nation, a weekend of orchestral music and live broadcasting in March 2012, led by the BBC, to ensure that orchestras played a key role in the national celebrations as part of the London 2012 Olympic Games. ABO members also appeared in the London 2012 Festival and featured in the ceremonies during the Games themselves. Its Scottish members were actively involved in plans for the cultural celebrations for the Commonwealth Games in 2014. Previous national celebrations of orchestral music involving the ABO include Listen Up! in association with BBC Radio 3 in 2004 and 2006.