The Association of British Orchestras was founded in 1948 as the Orchestral Employers' Association, primarily to negotiate with the Musicians' Union and other bodies on behalf of its membership, which consisted almost entirely at that time of those orchestras receiving annual funding from the newly established Arts Council of Great Britain. It changed its name to the Association of British Orchestras in 1973.
The past decades have seen substantial development in the organisation in terms of its size and its role, which has expanded to include a diverse range of activities designed to support the development of the UK's orchestral life. The ABO now has an extensive programme of events from its Annual Conference to Specialist Managers Meetings and Courses and Seminars.
It has developed a role as co-ordinator of various national projects, including major initiatives involving the participation of a large number of member orchestras. As a champion of the education and community work of the UK's orchestras, one of the ABO's key objectives has been the support and development of this core area of work.
The ABO has also mounted a number of campaigning and research initiatives, with a series of important industry reports being produced, including regular statistical surveys of the UK's orchestras.
The ABO celebrated its 70th anniversary in March 2018. Visit our anniversary website with a timeline of achievements by the ABO and its members over those 70 years, as well as information on British orchestras today.