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Entertainment Unions Protest Outside Government Department

MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl today joined members in a protest outside DCMS to demand an increase in arts funding.

Published: 22 November 2022 | 1:43 PM Updated: 28 November 2022 | 11:46 AM
Naomi Pohl speaking in a microphone in a crowd in front of DCMS building
MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl joined the protest outside DCMS: “We’re protesting today for all the arts organisations who have received savage cuts to their public funding.". Photo: Musicians' Union

The MU today joined members from Equity, BECTU and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain outside the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for a protest against cuts to English National Opera and other companies.

Arts Council England (ACE) announced major cuts in public funding to English National Opera (ENO) and other arts organisations earlier this month.

ENO and Britten Sinfonia had a 100% cut to their guaranteed Arts Council funding, Welsh National Opera has lost a third of its ACE funding, and the Royal Opera House and English National Ballet also received substantial cuts.

Government funding for the arts is down 46% in real terms since 2005, which is why the protest was held outside DCMS today. Due to the huge reduction in public funding, ACE has made some devastating decisions that put full time jobs at risk during a cost of living crisis.

MU General Secretary, Naomi Pohl, spoke from the demonstration today:

“We’re protesting today for all the arts organisations who have received savage cuts to their public funding. With English National Opera, the cut is not based on their work, it is based on their postcode. ENO does fantastic work and its impact goes far beyond London. The arts sector has suffered a 46% real terms cut to its funding over the past 12 years. 49% of musicians are now considering leaving music. We have a real crisis on our hands and it’s of this Government’s making. These cuts must be reversed.”

While the Musicians' Union supports increased funding for arts organisations outside of London, these decisions come at a direct cost to others in and outside of London. ‘Levelling up’ should not involve destroying other cultural institutions.  The UK’s world leading arts sector needs more investment, not less, to keep it world leading and protect the working people at its heart.

Take action now

Alongside the union’s own work, the MU is supporting member and organisation campaigns such as #LoveENO. The union is also working with Equity, whose members are equally affected.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Sign this petition to save the ENO and share on social media using #LoveENO
  • Write to your MP and to Chair of the DCMS Select Committee Julian Knight MP using the union’s template letter
  • Share why opera is important to you, and why you believe the culture of opera and the arts in the UK and abroad matters, using #LoveENO and #ChooseOpera across your social media channels

The more noise we can make as a collective, the better chance we have of convincing the Government and Arts Council England to act.

More information about how to support other organisations will be made available in due course.

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