Association of British Orchestras

Public affairs

A primary focus of the ABO is advocacy and campaigning on behalf of its members, including the publication of briefings and sector statistics.

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, Arts Council of Wales and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Current public affairs work includes:


The ABO has engaged Connect Communications to boost its public affairs role in the run up to Brexit and beyond. View the ABO’s position paper on the Trade & Cooperation Agreement.

The All-Party Parliamentary Classical Music Group

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 regularly responds to government consultations on behalf of its members, most recently including DEFRA, Taylor Review of Modern Employment Practice, and the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

Visas for Visiting Artists

The ABO regularly submits evidence to the Migration Advisory Committee and has successfully argued for the inclusion of orchestral musicians on the Shortage Occupation List.

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.


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. Visit the Pearle* website. The ABO regularly attends Pearle conferences and the Live Performance Sector Social Dialogue Committee meetings in Brussels.

Previous advocacy work includes:

Orchestras Everywhere

A public-facing social media campaign which aimed 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. View the campaign briefings or read more about British Orchestras in the Community. #orchestraseverywhere

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.

National Insurance

The ABO was successful in working in partnership with the MU to in lobby 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.

Related information

Find out more about orchestras everywhere

Annual Conference

The next ABO conference will take place in Glasgow from 9 – 11 February 2022.