Having joined in 1991 the Association of British Orchestras (ABO) is one of Pearle*’s oldest members joining on the motivation of having a voice in Brussels regarding European legislation impacting the Live Performance sector, engaging with big picture topics and taking part in European projects.
ABO was founded in 1948, primarily to negotiate with the Musicians' Union and other bodies on behalf of its membership. It changed its name to the Association of British Orchestras in 1973 and is now the national body representing the collective interest of professional orchestras, youth ensembles and the wider classical music industry throughout the UK. Its mission is to enable and support an innovative, collaborative and sustainable orchestral sector by providing advice, support, intelligence and information to its 192 members.
Having recently achieved an increased staff capacity to 4 people, supported by 2 consultants, and creating a new position of head of policy & communications it divides its activities in 3 priority areas: Connecting – Championing – Developing.
Connecting members to other members and the wider industry through networking opportunities, sharing information and best practices to help build resilience and financial sustainability. The primary activities on this strand are the ABO Annual Conference and the regular Specialist Managers Meetings where each group of managers (Archivists, Chairs & Trustees, Chamber Orchestras, Communications, Concert & Orchestra, Digital, Education, Finance, Fundraising and Marketing) meets once or twice a year to discuss topical issues and hear from relevant speakers.
Championing focuses on raising orchestras and the wider membership’s profile and influence with key stakeholders and the British public, through regular news, stakeholder bulletins, publications, awards and negotiating with the Musicians' Union on issues relating to fees and allowances for freelance musicians, better working relations between managers and musicians, amongst other topics. The primary focus of this strand being advocacy and campaigning on behalf of its members, championing also implies ABO regularly meets 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. Current public affairs work includes: Brexit, All-Party Parliamentary Classical Music Group, Government Consultations, Visas for Visiting Artists, International Relations.
Developing the skills and knowledge of its members’ staff is the third strand of ABO’s work. For this ABO offers a diverse package of training courses in partnership with UK Theatre, produces publications, provides advice and factsheets, works on the topics of education and health and youth ensembles and works in partnership with other organisations, including the Arts Fundraising and Philanthropy Programme, The Audience Agency and the Clore Leadership Programme, to provide training opportunities for and expand the knowledge base of its members’ staff.
Under this strand ABO partnered with other organisations to provide several specific development projects including, amongst others: Sirens aimed at fostering the programming of female composers, Find Your Way a transformative professional development leadership programme for senior and emerging managers in orchestras and classical music organisations who have aspirations for leadership, Resonate a fund and resource that encourages professional orchestras to programme into their repertoire the best pieces of British music from the past 25 years and Family Arts Campaign aimed at increasing the amount and range of high quality, family-friendly performances, the quality of experience, and improving marketing to build and develop family audiences.
In the months to come, unsurprisingly, ABO will have on its plate the hot topic of Brexit and will focus on diversion between UK & EU law. Also on ABO’s plate will be focusing on the issues of mobility, movement of goods, intellectual property and the way collecting societies operate.
Pearle* members in the spotlight 2021-2022
A key strength of Pearle is the network. The network joins forces to work towards a favourable environment for the live performance sector. It does so via joint actions and activities, exchange of knowledge and of views. But Pearle is also one big family, where we can talk and meet with like-minded people, be serious when needed and relaxed where possible.
2020 was a year we couldn’t meet physically, and this was replaced with regular meetings in the form of members’ corners. In 2021 we embarked upon visits to associations in the network. Throughout 2021 and 2022 Pearle* member associations across Europe will be presented to the wider group of the network so that you have a chance to know better, or be reminded of, what colleagues do. By the end of 2021 we look forward to having a nice collection of profiles shared with you.
To know how to join us see here.
Previously Profiled Pearle* Members 2021
March 2021: APD ČR - Asociace profesionálních divadel České republiky (Association of the Professional Theatres in the Czech Republic)
April 2021: Teatterikeskus ry (Theatre Centre)
May 2021: VNPF - Vereniging Nederlandse Poppodia en -Festivals (Association of Dutch Music Venues and Festivals)
June 2021: FAETEDA - Federación Estatal de Asociaciones de Empresas de Teatro Y Danza (Spanish Federation of Associations of Performing Arts Companies)
July 2021: Dansk Teater (Danish Theatre)
August 2021: VPLT - Der Verband für Medien- und Veranstaltungstechnik e.V. (The German Entertainment Technology Association)
September 2021: FMA - Asociación de Festivales de Música (Spanish Music Festival Association)
October 2021: BAROK - Balgarska asotsiatsia na rabotodatelite v oblasta na kulturata (Bulgarian Association of Employers in Culture)
November 2021: Les Forces Musicales