Association of British Orchestras

Dignity at Work

The ABO believes that the orchestral sector should be a safe, supportive and inclusive working environment and that it is in all our best interests to prevent and tackle bullying, harassment and abuses of power.

The Incorporated Society of Musicians and the Musicians’ Union, which jointly represent the interests of the UK’s professional musicians, have launched a set of principles to ‘tackle and prevent bullying, harassment and discrimination in the music sector.’ Both organisations have called for the entire music sector to support and adopt principles in the workplace. You can read the full code of practice online. To sign up to support the Code, please email or

ABO members are also able to access resources developed by SOLT/UK Theatre. We encourage members to look at their 10 Principles to encourage safer and even more supportive working practices. The principles are intended to help all employers, employees, workers, freelancers, volunteers, directors and trustees to create a positive tone and culture. They have been adapted from the 8 principles commissioned for the film industry by the BFI and are supported by the major unions and industry bodies.

SOLT/UK Theatre have also published a downloadable handbook

This includes:

  • A legal checklist to support you in making sure you have clear, up-to-date policies and procedures for preventing and dealing with harassment and bullying.
  • Example policies, procedures and initiatives.
  • A summary of the key themes arising from the open forums held across the country in February, and suggestions of good practise arising from those events.
  • A list of organisations and individuals with specialist skills to help deal with sensitive issues.

ABO members can attend SOLT/UK Theatre's new Dignity at Work Training at discounted rates and can access their legal checklist.

ABO members are able to access SOLT/UK Theatre’s Theatre Helpline on 0800 915 4617, a free 24-hour phone and email service supporting professionals in the performing arts with any issue affecting their health and wellbeing. This confidential resource offers support and advice on a range of personal and professional topics, including bullying, physical and mental health, finance, careers and retirement issues. It is open to anyone working in the performing arts, whether in-house or freelance. Callers will be given a safe place to share worries and concerns, and be provided with the resources they need to seek professional help if necessary. Like other existing support services in the UK, Theatre Helpline is not a whistleblowing service.

To promote the helpline, SOLT and UK Theatre have produced resources detailing the service provided and the contact information for those working in the performing arts, which are available to download online.

ABO members may also wish to signpost musicians to Music Minds Matter on 0808 802 8008. Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Music Minds Matter is a support line and service for the whole UK music community. Launched in December 2017, Music Minds Matter is the industry’s most comprehensive service yet – linking advice, signposting, clinical pathways and professional therapeutic services to Help Musicians UK’s (HMUK) traditional grants for musicians in need.

The League of American Orchestras also has resources on its website and members may wish to read an article in the Spring issue of Symphony magazine.

Annual Conference

The next ABO conference will take place in Bristol,
hosted by Bristol Beacon, from 24-26 January 2024.