The Glyndebourne opera festival has announced that it will no longer be able to tour as planned in 2023, following a reduction to its Arts Council England (ACE) funding for touring and its learning and engagement work.


Glyndebourne’s application to join Arts Council England’s 2023-2026 National Portfolio was successful, but the £800,000 annual funding that the organisation has been allocated was lower than it had applied for. In fact, it makes up half the amount received by Glyndebourne during the previous NPO funding period (2018-2022).

The funding cut follows several years during which the company has absorbed losses from its autumn tour, which has always been significantly underwritten by the Glyndebourne Festival; the Festival itself receives no public subsidy.

Glyndebourne has been touring, with financial support from ACE, since 1968. The tours have set out to take the company’s operas to broad audiences around the country, and to provide a launchpad for emerging talent.

Richard Davidson-Houston, managing director of Glyndebourne, said: 'The latest funding settlement from Arts Council England is devastating for many in the opera sector, which was targeted with significant cuts. It risks undermining the delicate ecosystem in which we operate.

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'These cuts have been justified in part by the need to redirect public funding to support culture in the regions. In this context, the decision to reduce Glyndebourne’s funding by 50% appears contradictory because it has the direct, inevitable and foreseeable consequence of rendering our tour financially unsustainable.

'This news adds to a series of setbacks for freelancers, is disappointing for our loyal venue partners and worsens cultural provision for audiences around the country who have enjoyed Glyndebourne's world-class opera productions at an affordable price in their local area for more than 50 years.’

Stephen Langridge, the festival's artistic director, added: ‘It is a huge blow to have to cancel our tour in 2023 which would have taken us to Liverpool, Canterbury, Norwich and Milton Keynes. Alongside main stage performances, we had planned exciting opportunities for people in those locations to make music with Glyndebourne in their community.

'This would have seen hundreds of children singing with the Glyndebourne Chorus, workshops in care homes and chamber music recitals in universities. Sadly, this autumn we will not be able to offer these extraordinary opera experiences so widely across England.

'However, whenever faced with adversity, Glyndebourne responds with creativity and innovation. So we will continue our tradition of performing full-scale opera and concerts in the autumn here at Glyndebourne and build on our longstanding talent development and learning and engagement activity as part of our mission to enrich the lives of as many people as possible through opera.’

Full details of a revised programme of activity at Glyndebourne in autumn 2023 will be published in the coming weeks.


Pic: © Glyndebourne Productions Ltd. Photo by Clive Nichols


Steve Wright
Steve WrightMulti-Platform Content Producer, BBC Music Magazine

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.