Adding voice to OTR - a Making Music campaign

Making Music has joined with almost 40 major music sector organisations, networks and individuals calling for 'voice' to be added to the eligible instruments, so that choirs can claim Orchestra Tax Relief (OTR). 

Created in 2016, OTR has made it possible for many orchestras and other kinds of unamplified music groups to produce more work, engage more professionals and commission new work, enabling more participants and audiences to experience the joy of live music performance. The UK government recently recognised the importance of this tax relief and its impact on the music industry by announcing a permanent higher rate of 45%. 

The success of OTR, however, has highlighted that choirs, whether professional or hobbyist, are not able to access this support. To be eligible for OTR, a performance must include 12 or more instruments that are not directly amplified. That means all kinds of instrumental groups can claim, not just orchestras: brass and concert bands, string players, handbell ringers, jazz bands, flute choirs etc. But 'voice' is not an eligible instrument, so concerts that are organised by choirs or where the performance is mostly vocal do not qualify.  

This is holding back the growth of this sector which makes a significant contribution to music professionals’ portfolio careers, creating work for around 30,000 choir leaders, composers and singers every year, with potential for more. Evidence shows that tax relief translates into more ambitious and larger-scale programming, more professionals engaged and commissioned, greater community reach, increased venue hires and growth in the night-time economy. 

Therefore, we are now calling for OTR to be extended to include 'voice' as one of the eligible instruments. This would be a simpler solution than asking for new legislation to be created, which may be difficult to prioritise in terms of the limited parliamentary time available. Furthermore, choirs operate in similar ways to orchestras and acoustic instrumental ensembles. They also produce concerts and incur production costs leading to performances, which are the costs that groups can claim against. The current legislation for OTR and the systems HMRC have already created would work equally well for acoustic vocal groups of 12+.  

This campaign is supported by a number of organisations and networks in the leisure-time music industry, including: Association of British Orchestras, UK Music, Musicians’ Union, Independent Society of Musicians, Association of British Choral Directors, English Folk Dance and Song Society, Music Mark, Making Music and 30 others. We have all come together and signed a proposal, calling for the goverment to act in the interest of leisure-time choirs, which you can read below.

Read the signed proposal calling for the inclusion of 'voice' to OTR

Read more on the campaign page

Read more about our Orchestra Tax Relief service