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MU and ABO launch Manifesto for British Orchestras

The MU and the ABO have created a joint Manifesto for British Orchestras and are collectively inviting orchestras to sign up.

This was launched at the ABO’s conference in Belfast during January and aims to underline a commitment to best practice including the recognition of musicians’ professionalism – ensuring their fair compensation, treatment and wellbeing, opposition to all forms of discrimination, harassment and bullying, and the generation of a positive working environment.

Orchestras already signed up include the City of London Sinfonia, the BBC Philharmonic, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the Orchestra of the Swan.

The terms of the Manifesto

The terms of the manifesto state that a participating orchestra:

1. Aims to perform to the highest artistic standards for the widest possible audience.

2. Knows that its most valuable asset for achieving this aim is its musicians.

3. Will recognise our musicians' professionalism and compensate them fairly for their part in the diverse programmes we put on.

4. Recognises that being the best that we can be can take its physical and mental toll, and takes seriously our responsibility for our musicians' health and well-being.

5. Encourages the creative input of our musicians into strategies for innovation and audience engagement.

6. Will provide a working environment through which our musicians can sustain a long career and retire with dignity.

7. Opposes all forms of discrimination harassment and bullying and encourages equal treatment of musicians. Will sign up to the MU/ISM joint statement on Dignity at Work and make everyone in our organisation is aware of our policies on bullying and harassment.

8. Will work on strategies to make our workforce more reflective of the communities we serve.

9. Will provide the ABO and MU with evidence which supports their arguments for maintaining and increasing public funding for orchestras, with the aim of ensuring fair pay for our musicians.

10. Will support the ABO and the MU in their development of joint initiatives that will benefit musicians and management alike.

MU delighted to work in partnership with the ABO

Horace Trubridge, MU General Secretary, says:

“We are delighted to work in partnership with our friends at the ABO to launch this Manifesto for a Great British Orchestra. With reduced funding for UK orchestras alongside the effects of austerity measures on audience numbers, it’s vital that we all pull together to support this precious cultural resource.

“The Manifesto represents a commitment from players and managers alike to uphold best principles in the UK’s magnificent orchestras.”

Collaboration between employers and musicians is crucial

Mark Pemberton, Director of the ABO, says:

“After years of austerity, and with Brexit looming, it’s more crucial than ever that employers and musicians work collaboratively and amicably to forge a pathway to continued success.

“British orchestras are at the top of their game, but are fragile too, and under ever increasing scrutiny in relation to their reach and relevance.

“Combining the strengths of the ABO and the MU will be in our mutual interests, securing a better relationship and a better working environment for manager and musician alike.”

Orchestras interested in signing up to the Manifesto should contact Jo Laverty, MU National Organiser Orchestras,

Published: 21/03/2019

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