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BBC Singers and Orchestras Update

A joint update from the BBC and Musicians' Union on the future of the BBC Singers and orchestras.

Published: 15 February 2024 | 2:45 PM
Photo: Jonathan Stewart

The BBC and the Musicians’ Union (MU) made the following joint statement on the future of the BBC Singers and orchestras: 

"The BBC and the MU have engaged in constructive talks over recent months. We are pleased that we have a strategy which secures the future of the BBC Singers, and we look forward to celebrating their centenary year.

"We agree that artistic excellence, having a growing impact in music education, partnerships and operating on a financially stable footing are central to a long term, sustainable future for all of the BBC’s Performing Groups. 

"We are committed to working together to deliver these objectives and will continue constructive discussions with the review of terms and conditions."

Thank you to our BBC Orchestra and BBC Singers reps

The Musicians' Union is pleased with what has been achieved through these talks and we will continue to represent our members in the next stage of the process.

We would like to express our sincere thanks to the BBC Orchestra and BBC Singers reps whose work has been crucial.

The BBC adds: "We know this has been an uncertain time for the BBC Singers and for our orchestras, and we'd like thank them for their resilience and their continued commitment to delivering extraordinary music making to our audiences during this period."

The BBC has also issued a further statement on the future of all the BBC Performing Groups, made up of the BBC Singers and all of the BBC's orchestras across the UK. 

BBC statement on the future of the BBC's Performing Groups 

We have now concluded a complex project looking at the future of the BBC’s performing groups.

The BBC is pleased to announce it has a sustainable plan for the future for the BBC Singers as an integral part of the BBC’s classical music provision, supported by a proposal from a third party, the VOCES8 Foundation.

BBC Singers staff will continue to be employed by the BBC, with a strong artistic identity, and remain core to BBC Radio 3 and the BBC Proms.

Following comprehensive exploration of options and extensive discussions, the proposal will draw on VOCES8 Foundation’s considerable experience and expertise across music education and community engagement.

This partnership builds on the valuable education and community work the BBC Singers already deliver across East London, as well as the commercial work already undertaken, and we will continue to identify new opportunities for additional revenue for the ensemble.

The BBC Singers have a busy schedule this year as they mark their centenary, and we will be shining a spotlight on the group this autumn as our audience is invited to join their celebrations.

In addition, over the past months the BBC has also been working closely with the MU to consider opportunities for the BBC’s orchestras.

In maintaining all of the BBC’s distinctive orchestras, we will consider the resourcing levels which support each ensemble as their work develops across broadcast, education and commercial activity. This will be a gradual process in which we will work closely with the Unions and our musicians, alongside a review to modernise terms and conditions making sure these are aligned with the BBC’s principles of fairness and transparency.

Artistic excellence and music education remain at the core of music in the BBC and these plans support the aims of the BBC’s 2022 classical strategy and will support new partnerships.

The BBC is also pursuing an Orchestral Tax Relief application which will be central in ensuring the sustainability of the six groups amid the BBC’s ongoing financial challenges.

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