At a time of anxiety for the sector over Brexit, with potentially restricted access to talent and increased red tape in European touring markets, Director Mark Pemberton says: “Brexit will of course be a topic, but with so little concrete information available even at this advanced stage, we will be taking the opportunity to look beyond geography and politics. What other boundaries exist? What are the barriers that inhibit reaching wider audiences? How can we make meaningful progress around diversity and inclusion? There is competition in our sector, but it is also an industry that’s incredibly good at sharing ideas and best practice. We’re proud of the reputation that the ABO Conference has built as the best forum of its kind for open discussion of all these issues.”
Delegates will be welcomed by Gavin Reid, Chair, ABO, Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle CBE DL, Lord Lieutenant of Belfast, with a keynote address by Sean Rainbird, Director, National Gallery of Ireland. Richard Wigley, Managing Director, Ulster Orchestra says: “The Ulster Orchestra couldn’t be happier to welcome delegates from across the orchestral sector in the UK and beyond. We are proud to be part of Northern Ireland and its new-found flourishing place in the world. A warm Belfast welcome awaits.”
Visiting speakers Steve Brosvik of Nashville Symphony and John Kieser of New World Symphony will be giving updates on how programmes in the US are supporting and encouraging equity, diversity and inclusion. UK Disability Champion for Arts & Culture Andrew Miller will present a session, along with conductor James Rose, with updates on the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Change Makers project, which has created a disabled-led professional ensemble.
Other cross-border issues on the agenda will be the progress that is being made to counter the historic ‘us and them’ divide between musicians and management. The ABO’s ‘Find Your Way’ programme, now in its third year, aims to boost the careers for future leaders in the sector, and actively encourages orchestral musicians to participate. Graduate of the scheme Catherine Arlidge MBE – violinist in the CBSO and now Artistic and Educational Director of the National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain – and current participants, will present at the conference.