‘A year’s shutdown of the sector has stretched its fragile business model as never before’: Association of British Orchestras Conference to Focus on the Pandemic, Brexit and Racism

Alan Davey, Controller of BBC Radio 3 and Classical Music, will speak at the ABO event in March.

‘A year’s shutdown of the sector has stretched its fragile business model as never before’: Association of British Orchestras Conference to Focus on the Pandemic, Brexit and Racism

The annual classical music conference will take place online on 10–12 March.

The Association of British Orchestras (ABO) Conference has announced a fully online programme for this year’s event, which will take the theme of ‘Aftershock’. The conference, which takes place from 10 to 12 March, will address issues that have affected the classical music sector recently, including Brexit, the pandemic, the climate crisis and the inequalities in the sector, highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement. 

The three-day event will feature a number of speakers including Caroline Dinenage MP, Minister of State for Digital & Culture, who will deliver the keynote speech; Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair of Arts Council England; and Alan Davey, Controller of BBC Radio 3 and Classical Music. 

Mark Pemberton, Director of ABO, said:

Now more than ever we need to bring together all those involved in orchestral music, managers and musicians, to reflect on the challenges we have faced this past year and look ahead to how we rebuild. A year’s shutdown of the sector has stretched its fragile business model as never before, and has fallen particularly hard on freelance musicians, many of whom have faced a complete loss of income. 

The opening events of the conference on Wednesday 10 March will discuss diversity in the classical music sector, and how to develop anti-racist models for orchestras. On Thursday 11 March, the sessions will touch on how Brexit and the pandemic have affected music and arts, the role of orchestras within the health and wellness of the public, and how orchestras in the US have dealt with issues of diversity and anti-racism. 

How the pandemic has affected the BBC’s programming will be the topic of discussion on Friday 12 March, as well as the future of touring, adapting to digital mediums, and how the changes over the past 18 months will shape the future of the sector. The ABO conference will finish with a session announcing the winners of this year’s ABO Classical Music Awards, nominations for which are open until 22 February. 

Tickets for Wednesday’s sessions are supported by ABO’s charity partner Help Musicians and are free but must be pre-booked online. Tickets for the Thursday and Friday sessions can be purchased on ABO’s website. Visit https://abo.org.uk/events/annual-conference-2021

Published on 27 January 2021

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