English National Opera: major funding cut may force move to Manchester
The opera company is to lose its £12.6 million annual allocation, as part of a funding round that sees money moving out of London and into the regions
English National Opera is to lose its £12.6 million core annual funding from Arts Council England as of 2023. The drastic cut is part of a major funding shake-up for the company, which may have to consider a future outside London.
ENO, Britain's only full-time repertory opera company, will no longer receive the substantial annual payout. Instead, there will be a payment of £17 million spread over a three-year period, to help the company 'develop a new business model'. This includes a suggestion that ENO move from its traditional base at the London Coliseum to a new home in Manchester.
Arts Council England uses money from the government and the National Lottery to support arts and culture across the nation. The biggest overhaul of English arts funding for years, the current funding changes – effective from April 2023 until 2026 – will see millions of pounds of arts funding moved away from London and into the various regions.
Around 20 per cent of the money currently earmarked for institutions in the capital will be allocated elsewhere by 2026. This change will have a profound impact on ENO and other large, London-based arts organisations such as the National Theatre and Southbank Centre.
The funding cut will have a major impact on ENO's activities. The company's current £12.6 million annual allocation represents more than double the box office income earned during the year before COVID.
Arts Council England chair Sir Nick Serota maintains that there are 'opportunities that exists for English National Opera to become a different kind of company working across the country.'
'They are capable of responding, in our view,' he continues. 'They've got great leadership. They have great achievement, and there seems to us to be an opportunity here that we should grasp.'
ENO's own reaction to the news was robust. In a statement headed 'A new chapter for ENO', the company explained that it had already been looking to its future.
'For the past four years, ENO has been reimagining what a modern opera company should look like, building new audiences and reach beyond London.
'Today’s offer of investment from Arts Council of £17 million over the next three years will allow us to increase our national presence by creating a new base out of London, potentially in Manchester. We plan to continue to manage the London Coliseum, using it to present a range of opera and dance whilst maximising it as a commercial asset.
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'English National Opera has vision and purpose and we aim to support the levelling up agenda by reimagining opera for future generations across England.'
Pic: Robbie Jack / Corbis via Getty Images
Steve has been an avid listener of classical music since childhood, and now contributes a variety of features to BBC Music’s magazine and website. He started writing about music as Arts Editor of an Oxford University student newspaper and has continued ever since, serving as Arts Editor on various magazines.