Association of British Orchestras Conference Report

How best do we support musicians to deal with the stresses and potential health problems associated with their working lives?

BAPAM Interim Chief Executive, Deborah Charnock, and AMABO Doctor and Honorary Physician to BAPAM, Dr Jonathan White, joined a panel discussion on performer healthcare at the 2013 ABO conference, held 23-25 January in Leeds.

The session, Wellbeing – Buzzword or Reality, was chaired by David Sulkin, Chief Executive of the Musicians Benevolent Fund. Fellow panelists included Alex Gascoine, musician from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Simon Webb, Director of Orchestral Management at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

The well-attended discussion involved lively comment from performers, managers and educators. There was an abundance of positive feedback about BAPAM’s essential provision of specialist and confidential advice and guidance about performance-related health problems. Major well-being issues mentioned by delegates were stress, mental health, and addiction problems, particularly alcohol (see this issue of Alcoholis – The Bulletin of the Medical Council on Alcohol, and Dr Jenny Lisle’s article, Alcohol and the Performing Arts).

Discussions included the responsibility of managers to create open and supportive working environments, as well as the role of peers as advocates for performer health. Such issues should also be seen in the broader context of public health policy.

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