Sinfonia logo

    A group of professional musicians struck a chord this week when they became the UK ’s only co-operative orchestra.

    In a move that could be instrumental in reinvigorating arts funding, Sinfonia Musicisti is offering a sustainable alternative for theatres and communities wanting to maintain or reinstate programmes of orchestral concerts.

    The Reading-based orchestra is developing a viable, long-term approach with support from The Co-operative Enterprise Hub, a free service providing the tools, skills and knowledge for community and member-owned enterprises to get off the ground or grow.

    Mark Kesel, 53, a trumpet player from Reading who is founder of Chaconne Brass and a former student of Professor Sidney Ellison of the Royal Academy of Music, said: “Theatres are struggling to maintain orchestral performances with funding for the arts increasingly difficult to come by.

    “Our players share the benefits and the risks and, it is this equitable approach amongst our 40 players that, with no debt, allows us to offer an affordable programme of music from a professional orchestra.

    “Ultimately we want to go on to launch a community share issue and offer a radical new way for people to invest in the arts, a more sustainable approach to funding that provides potential for benefactors to see a return.”

    From pubs to post offices and retail to renewables, the UK is witnessing a resurgence in enterprises set up, run and controlled for the benefit of the community. Figures show a near ten per cent increase in such co-operative enterprises - rising from 5,450 (in 2010) to approaching 6,000 (5,933) in 2011, with a combined UK membership up by 5.5 per cent to 13.5 million people.

    The Co-operative Group, the UK ’s largest member-owned organisation with over seven million members has pledged a further £5million to developing The Co-operative Enterprise Hub service between 2013-15 to continue its support for the growing sector.

    Michael Fairclough, The Co-operative’s Head of Community and Co-operative Investment, said: “Communities across the country, driven by needs other than to maximise profit, are turning to co-operatively-owned solutions for the provision of businesses and services - enterprises operated by people concerned for accountability, transparency and sustainability which, can make a significant contribution to the rebalancing of the UK economy.”

    The first CD of music from Sinfonia Musicisti will be available next month (November) when they can be heard supporting internationally-acclaimed tenor, Ian Storey.

    Further information about setting up a co-operative is available at

    The Co-operative Group is the UK ’s largest mutual business, owned not by private shareholders but by over seven million consumers. It is the UK ’s fifth biggest food retailer and a major financial services provider, operating The Co-operative Bank and The Co-operative Insurance. Among its other businesses are the number one funeral services provider, the third largest pharmacy chain and one of Britain ’s largest farming operations. As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Group has also set out its social and sustainability goals in its groundbreaking Ethical Plan, which specifies over 50 commitments in these areas.

    The Group operates 4,800 retail trading outlets, employs more than 100,000 people and has an annual turnover of more than £13bn. Further information is available at




Our Blog


Welcome to our blog, we'll be updating it with any exciting news or events so make sure to keep an eye on it.

To visit our Twitter feed please click the link below.

Recent Images


You are viewing the text version of this site.

To view the full version please install the Adobe Flash Player and ensure your web browser has JavaScript enabled.

Need help? check the requirements page.

Get Flash Player