Key Facts

The CBSO’s Impact

  • The CBSO is the only full-time professional symphony orchestra between Bournemouth and Manchester. It brings musical experiences to a significant proportion of the British population.
  • By staging over 150 concerts per year it brings world-class music to over 200,000 concertgoers
  • Its regular audience members boost the city’s visitor economy by travelling from 30 counties
  • As one of the world’s finest orchestras it serves as a global ambassador for the city: its recent performance in Tokyo was voted Japan’s best concert of the year, receiving more votes than the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra and other leading orchestras
  • Its Learning & Engagement programme, which is delivered in partnership with the 13 West Midlands Music Education Hubs, reached over 70,000 attendees last year, and every year 7 child in Birmingham is offered free tickets to one of its 30 annual concerts for young people
  • It nurtures the city’s most talented young musicians through its Youth Orchestra, masterclasses for secondary school children and MA courses at two local universities
  • It brings our community together through six choirs, work with people living with dementia, and work with young people with disabilities
  • Its 90 world-class professional musicians form the heart of Birmingham’s musical life, teaching at local schools and universities and performing with other ensembles
  • In London, where DCMS- and lottery-funded expenditure on the arts and culture is £86 per head of population against £8 in the rest of the country, there are six publicly-funded symphony orchestras. In the North West there are three. The CBSO is the only such organisation serving the area in between.

With Principal Guest Conductor Edward Gardner. Credit: Neil Pugh.
With Principal Guest Conductor Edward Gardner. Credit: Neil Pugh.

The CBSO’s Finances

The CBSO’s public funding from Birmingham City Council and Arts Council England has already been cut by 25% – over £1 million pounds per year – in real terms since 2010. The CBSO is doing all it can to help itself:

  • its earned income from ticket sales is the highest of any British orchestra
  • annual private sector fundraising has more than doubled between 2010 and 2015
  • in July it was one of only nine organisations nationally to complete Arts Council England’s Catalyst Endowment fundraising programme successfully, even though fundraising is harder in the Midlands than it is in London
  • staff and musicians have received pay freezes or sub-inflationary pay increases for several years
  • the Orchestra Tax Relief bill, first announced in the 2014 autumn statement, will help -- but its likely impact has already been more than outweighed by previous cuts.
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