This statement, dated 11 June 2019, is made in response to allegations that have come to light through an online article published on 7 June 2019 by Nomada, an independent platform for investigative journalism in Guatemala.  Sistema England has yet to independently verify the legitimacy of this online article.

The Trustees and CEO of Sistema England are deeply shocked and concerned to hear of the serious allegations of rape and abuse made against Bruno Campo, youth orchestra conductor and teacher from Guatemala, over several years.

Sistema England extends its support for all individuals who may have been victims of this abuse, and praises the courage of those who have come forward to share their horrific experiences.

For the avoidance of doubt, Sistema England has never employed, contracted or invited Bruno Campo, whether as a guest or to work with or participate in any activity led or organised by Sistema England.

Moreover, Sistema England has never arranged any activity that brought children and young people into contact with Bruno Campo.

Sistema England did make a discretionary donation to The Nucleo Project to help with travel costs for 8 children from England to participate in the Sistema Europe Youth Orchestra camps in Istanbul in 2014 and Athens in 2017, where Bruno Campo was present.

Sistema England will fully support the executive and board of The Nucleo Project, who are seeking expert advice to ensure best practices for engaging with the children and the parents of children who participated in these projects where Bruno Campo was present.

As the host and organising body of Sistema Europe Youth Orchestra 2018, Sistema England excluded Bruno Campo from any involvement in the project, having determined a cause for concern as to his suitability for this role.

Sistema England considers it has a robust safeguarding policy and procedure that is regularly reviewed and updated.  The charity takes the utmost responsibility, both under the Children’s Act, and as acting in Locus Parentis for children, young people and staff under its care during its projects.  We were unprepared to take any staffing risks which might in any way be detrimental to the wellbeing of any Sistema England Project participants.

This decision was made in full agreement with the board of Sistema Europe, the organising body for Sistema Europe Youth Orchestra.

This allegation highlights the need for all organisations such as Sistema England, which work in the field of music for social action, to vigorously review vetting and safeguarding policies and especially procedures, to ensure that these are thoroughly fit for purpose and are proactively communicated and absorbed through training.

It is a wake-up call to us all, to fully empower young people to understand what their rights are, what abuse of power can look, sound and feel like, and to ensure they have clarity and confidence on what they can do. This includes ensuring they know there is a safe and discreet space to report concerns about themselves or others, and that a mechanism exists that takes these seriously and will act with authority in the best interests of safeguarding every child and young person.  It also means implementing robust mechanisms for any and all adults to share any concerns without fear of rejection, accusation or lack of appropriate action.

We stand with the many like-minded leaders of music for social action projects which prioritise the safety and well-being of all participants at the highest level.  We are ready to collaborate and support our colleagues in the field to enhance practices to ensure that no child, young person or staff member engaged ever has to experience such abuses of power, and that all participants are safe on projects which seek to empower and inspire young people through music.

Fiona Cunningham, CEO and the Trustees of Sistema England

This Statement may be downloaded as a pdf here: Sistema England Statement Guatemala Bruno Campo