Arts Council England and English National Opera (ENO) have put out a joint statement this morning about the future of ENO.
The Arts Council confirmed that it is awarding ENO a grant of £24 million for their April 2024 to March 2026 season, from a budget that was first announced in April 2023.
They are also giving ENO longer to find a new main base outside of London: during this 2024 to 2026 period, ENO will be able to create an opera programme – and new business model – in the new city, but also allowed to offer a substantial opera season every year in London.
ENO will confirm the location of the new city in December 2023.
The move to the new city will happed by March 2029 – rather than the ambitious timeline of March 2026 originally dictated by the Arts Council.
Back in February 2022, the UK Government told the Arts Council to redistribute some of its funding from London to other parts of the country, so they announced in November 2022 that funding for ENO in London would be cut completely.
There was a furious backlash, and the Arts Council were forced to u-turn, and announced in January 2023 that ENO would get a one year reprieve, and later in January that they would commission analysis of opera and music funding in England.
In March 2022 the Arts Council announced a budget of £24 million for English National Opera for 2024 to 2026.
In total, the Arts Council is investing £35.46 million in the ENO between 2023 and 2026.
Sir Nicholas Serota, Arts Council England, Chair, said in a press statement: “As custodians of public money, the Arts Council has led a rigorous process that has carefully considered ENO’s application. The ENO has presented inspiring ideas to bring their excellent work to people beyond the capital and to explore a range of new ways of presenting opera, and we are investing £24 million in the company over two years to help them realise these ambitions. The extended timeline for their transition to a new main base will enable the ENO to undertake this complex move and to develop partnerships in the new city. The Arts Council’s support for opera is unwavering, and we are excited by the ENO’s new plans and by the enthusiasm shown by the potential host cities.”
Dr Harry Brünjes, Chair, The English National Opera said: “The ENO Board and Management look forward to working with the Arts Council to develop this positive future for the organisation. We welcome this investment and additional time which we believe will help us to successfully develop a new main base out of London, whilst maintaining a season at the London Coliseum. We are pleased that Arts Council England support the artistic plans we have proposed in tandem with our longstanding wish to engage with new audiences and partners around the country. Our most recent season at the London Coliseum was a fantastic success, and we now have an opportunity to build upon that both within London and from our new base. It is important to note the hard work of our outgoing CEO, Stuart Murphy, and our incoming Interim CEO Jenny Mollica, alongside the ENO’s Artistic Director, Annilese Miskimmon, and Music Director, Martyn Brabbins, throughout this process.”
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said: “The English National Opera is a treasured national institution and I welcome the agreement they reached with Arts Council England to ensure a smooth transition towards a new future for the organisation. I look forward to seeing the plans it develops to make sure more people across the country can experience its fantastic work.”