The English National Opera will receive up to £24 million of public funding to support the move of its HQ.
The Arts Council England sparked a national outcry when it told the ENO it would lose all funding unless it quit London. The ENO said it was ‘shocked’ by the decision, warning a move could destroy the ensemble of artists. The Arts Council granted £11.5 million in funding in January 2023 to sustain its work in London through 2024. It also said the opera could keep its Coliseum base near Covent Garden while moving its HQ elsewhere.
“Following development work by the English National Opera, Arts Council England has set a budget of up to £24 million investment for 2024-26,” the joint statement reads. “The company will now start the process of making an application to the Arts Council for an award of up to this amount. ENO’s developing plans are based on a reimagined artistic and business model with a primary base out of London, whilst continuing to own, manage and put on work at the London Coliseum.”
The Musicians’ Union welcomed the funding proposal, but said the provisional budget doesn’t do enough given inflation and a move that will bring unknown costs. The MU points out the funding settlement represents a real-terms 24% cut since 2015. The MU says it will continue to work with members and the ENO management to ensure that the Union gets the best possible outcome for its members.
“English National Opera is a forward-thinking, creative and accessible opera company with an incredibly talented and experienced staff of musicians, singers, and crew,” adds MU London Regional Organizer Jamie Pullman. “It must not be allowed to dwindle or wither on the vine. We will continue to argue for increased funding and a return to National Portfolio status in the next funding round.”
The Union also maintains its call for more notice and consultation on major funding decisions, especially with a number of the ACE funding decisions announced in November 2022 that have been criticized by trade unions, industry and MPs.
“As a general principle, the Musicians’ Union believes that more notice and consultation should be a prerequisite for any major changes to the funding of a National Portfolio Organization,” adds MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl. “The ordeal English National Opera staff and people working in NPOs across the country have been through over the past few months must not be repeated.”