The ABO announces Find Your Way

It is well documented that as public investment continues to decline, British orchestras face significant challenges to their long-term financial sustainability. In addition, they must respond to accusations from politicians and the media that the audience for classical music is ageing and declining. Leaders of the future will have to meet the challenge of articulating the value of public investment, while maintaining and extending the reach and relevance of orchestras. The next generation of leaders will need the capacity to forge solutions in an industry subject to ‘cost disease’, where increases in labour costs tend to outstrip increases in income. They will also need to argue their orchestra’s place in contemporary culture and develop audiences.

These leaders will need to be flexible thinkers, capable of managing change.

Prompted by these significant challenges, the ABO held sessions on leadership and succession planning at its conference in Gateshead in January 2015, and these have informed the development of a new pilot programme, Find Your Way, which offers a tailored coaching and mentoring programme for four aspiring leaders.

At the heart of the project is the commitment of ambitious managers and musicians to drive their own knowledge, skills and profile through mentoring from high-level leaders.

Participants will work with Richard Wigley, arts consultant and former General Manager of the BBC Philharmonic, on Individual Development Plans, have one-to-one mentoring at CEO-level, be offered shadowing opportunities at their host organization, participate in a Fresh Thinking session at the ABO Conference and mentor prospective future participants.

Richard Wigley said: “The ABO’s Missing Rungs leadership programme is the cornerstone of my successful career so I am delighted to be guiding Find Your Way. Find Your Way, as the title suggests, challenges the participants to be responsible for the design of their own leadership programme, with support from me and Fiona Harvey from the ABO team. The generous response of busy CEO-level mentors has been superb and I know that they will offer unmatched experience and insight. The four Find Your Way participants have the potential to invigorate leadership and fresh thinking in our sector and I am thrilled to be working with them."

Mark Pemberton, Director of the ABO, said, “Twenty years ago the ABO offered its much respected Missing Rungs programme, which helped develop some of the leaders in our sector today. It is now clear that we need a programme for the current generation of aspiring leaders. Find Your Way is just a first step in what we aim to be an ambitious offer of sector-specific leadership development, to help our members build resilience and innovation and help ensure the future of the 21st Century orchestra”.

The first four participants on the scheme are:

Flo Ambrose, Performance and Programming Manager, Royal College of Music
Catherine Arlidge (pictured), Violin, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Tim Davy, Tours & Projects Manager, London Symphony Orchestra
Sue Voysey, Artistic Planning Manager, Hallé Concerts Society


For further information please contact:

Claire Willis
Director, ElevenTenths
Tel: 07951 600362


Fiona Harvey
Education and Youth Ensembles Consultant
Association of British Orchestras
Tel: 020 7557 6770

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