Orchestras Live plays a vital role in bringing excellent orchestral music to culturally under-served audiences and communities throughout England.
In 2015/16 we celebrated 50 years of delivering unique and high quality live orchestral music experiences to a vast range of communities across England. Working with 62 investing partners, we engaged 57,741 people in live orchestral experiences, of whom 20,941 were children and young people.
In addition, we reached a further 8,132 people through digital platforms. This was achieved through delivering 174 projects and concerts in partnership with local authorities, promoters, music education hubs, Bridge organisations and other partners across England.
Our events featured 27 professional orchestras and included formal and informal concerts, concerts for children and families, and community and education projects ranging from single workshops to year-round residencies. Whilst the results of our work were as wide-ranging as the communities where our activity takes place, they were all underpinned by our commitment to artistic excellence.
Orchestras Live continues to develop the skills and expertise of our regional promoter partners in order that orchestral music can thrive in their areas. We have provided leadership and guidance on artistic programming, audience development, diversity and access, marketing, concert presentation, learning, participation, and fundraising, and ensured the sharing and dissemination of models of good practice across the network.
We have empowered partners to push the boundaries of orchestral work, including cross-genre / art form collaborations and new models of delivery. In Lincoln, Bridlington and Barrow, for example, we helped our partners develop programmes that adopted new styles of concert presentation, where the introduction of informal seating, refreshments and concert times linked to public transport alongside new concert formats, achieved very positive results in terms of audience retention and growth.
Without the creative energy, brokerage and advice that our team provides, very little orchestral activity would have taken place in the regions in which we operate and orchestras would not have had a critical mass of national promoters to tour to. 96% of our partners reported that their relationship with us had a positive impact on their practice.
Orchestras Live actively promotes the creation of new orchestral repertoire, with 53% of concert programmes featuring work by living composers. Through our relationships with a very wide range of promoters we achieve economies of scale, developing tours across England and enabling the best of British professional orchestras to reach the widest possible audience in a particularly cost effective way.
Our Beyond the Premiere initiative addresses the issue of the lack of performance opportunities for new works beyond their premiere and in 2015/16 we featured new works by Jane Wells and John Woolrich in locations including Stroud, Southampton, Spalding and Bury St Edmunds.
The confidence that comes from continued investment by Arts Council England in our work is matched by partnerships with a diverse range of national and regional trusts and foundations. And through collaboration with local partners we contributed to the infrastructure for orchestral activity, raising the ambition of local initiatives and stimulating greater local investment.
Our recent Strategic Touring award will enable us to bring our new Sound Around orchestral tour to Sunderland, Northampton, Doncaster, Lowestoft, Southend and Carlisle, which will lead to a step-change in the ability of orchestras and venues to engage young people with additional needs, their schools and their families in orchestral music.