English National Opera (ENO), based at the London Coliseum, has revealed that it will get Arts Council England funding for 2023 – 2024 after all.
Following last November’s funding announcement by Arts Council England, the ENO were getting a complete funding chop unless they relocated out of London.
In an about-turn following a backlash against the cuts, Arts Council England will now give ENO £11.46 million for the next financial year starting 1 April 2023.
Even though their original schedule for 2023 – 2024 has been severely disrupted, with a number of productions now postponed or cancelled, they will still be able to go ahead with opera for the next year.
The ENO’s statement reads:
“The English National Opera are pleased to confirm that, following negotiations with Arts Council England, the organisation is to receive £11.46m of National Lottery funding for the next financial year, starting 1st April 2023. This represents a 9% cut from the ENO’s previous funding.
The delay in confirming our financial status has meant that our plans for the season ahead will inevitably have to change, including the postponement of a number of new productions as well as our current Ring Cycle, in partnership with the Met, which was due to continue with a new production of Siegfried next season.
However, this level of funding will allow us to honour many of the contracts of the hundreds of freelancers we hire every year, and enable us to continue to make incredible opera available for everyone, in English, with hugely subsidised tickets. It will also allow us to continue the award-winning ENO Breathe, available via 85 NHS Trusts, and ‘Finish This’, available in over 200 schools across the country.
We do remain concerned that this only gives audiences and our workforce one year’s reprieve, and still leaves a huge amount of uncertainty regarding the ENO’s future. For the ENO to meaningfully deliver on the Government’s levelling-up agenda, ACE needs to invest in the organisation at an appropriate level going forward. This has to be done in the context of ACE developing an opera strategy, in conversations with audiences and our colleagues across the industry – something that is still yet to be undertaken by ACE.
The ENO and our audiences remain in the dark as to why ACE decided to remove our status as a National Portfolio Organisation, despite us meeting or exceeding all the criteria they set: one in seven of our audience are under 35, one in five of our principal performers are ethnically diverse and over 50% of our audience are brand new to opera. We have been bringing opera to people nationally via multiple completely free broadcasts, in innovative ways such as car parks via drive-in opera and over TikTok, as well as in more traditional settings, and over 50% of visitors to opera at the Coliseum are from out of London.
Our hope is that, as negotiations for investment for future years continue, some clarity will be provided.
In the meantime, we want to thank everyone for their continued support during this difficult and worrying time for everyone at the ENO.”
Forthcoming ENO productions include Carmen from 1 February 2023.