CBSO boss: I won’t change phone policy. I’ll megaphone it

CBSO boss: I won’t change phone policy. I’ll megaphone it

Letter from the orchestra’s CEO Emma Stenning to a customer disturbed by use of phones in symphony concerts.

Dear [name redacted]

Thank you so much for your continued support of the CBSO. You are, and always will remain, our loyal, supportive friends and audiences.

Ahead of your priority booking for the 24/25 season we are writing to you directly about our policy for the use of mobile phones.

Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a lot of discussion in the media about our policy around the use of phones, and this has understandably caused concerns for some of you. Whilst much of our position has either been misrepresented or misreported, we are of course listening to, and reflecting on, the feedback, which we take very seriously.

To put your mind at ease, we are not encouraging filming at our concerts.

In fact, our policy simply states that audience members are welcome to capture something to remember their experience by at the appropriate moments – namely during applause breaks.

In addition to this, we plan to make the policy clear at the start of each concert, through a recorded message played before the orchestra goes on stage. This will set out when audience members will be able to take photos or video clips, and we hope that we will have this in place by Wednesday’s concert.

As a reminder, here is our phone policy, which is also printed in our programmes:

We are very happy for you to take photographs and short video clips at our concerts. We ask that you are mindful of disturbing artists and other audience members and suggest that you take pictures and videos during applause breaks. Please dim the brightness on your phone, and do not use your flash.

We also provide all programme notes and some song texts digitally, as both a cost-effective offer for audiences, and as a way of furthering our environmental commitments. Our Digital Programmes can be downloaded to phones and viewed during the performance. We are currently developing a ‘Concert Mode’ that will reduce the light emitted from the screen so that audience members can discretely look at their programme without disturbing those around them. Furthermore, we will be providing more surtitles for our forthcoming season, minimising the need for audiences to use their phone to read along.

Finally, I wanted to clarify our policy on drinks. Drinks that are purchased at Symphony Hall can be taken into the Hall in a plastic cup. This policy has been in place since the Hall re-opened post-covid and enables our audience, if they wish, to enjoy a drink whilst listening to the concert.

Our existing audiences are cherished and valued and are very much part of the Orchestra’s extended family. We recognise this and thank you for your involvement, engagement and support – whether that be through attending concerts, your financial gifts or indeed both. We hope that this update helps to clarify any concerns that you may have, and we can’t wait to share our Season of Joy with you.

Kindest regards,

Emma Stenning
Chief Executive

Mark Phillips
Player Chair

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