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Impact of Arts Funding Cuts Highlighted in Leafleting Drive

Musicians’ Union members took to the Coliseum for a leafleting session on Friday 6 January, talking to audience members about the impact of arts funding cuts on opera and ballet.

Published: 13 January 2023 | 11:45 AM
A large crowd marches in central London, some MU branded signs read Fund The Arts and Love ENO.
MU members took to the Coliseum for a leafleting session on Friday 6 January, talking to audience members about the impact of arts funding cuts on opera and ballet. Photo credit: Musicians' Union

Members and staff spoke to arts lovers outside the Coliseum on Friday 6 January, handing out leaflets about Arts Council England’s (ACE) decision to cut English National Opera’s (ENO’s) national portfolio funding. They asked audience members to sign the Love ENO petition.

As well as raising awareness of the cuts imposed on the ENO, they also spoke to audience members about the threat that arts funding cuts pose to English National Ballet’s use of the Coliseum for its iconic productions.

It’s the third in-person action MU members have taken since the arts funding cut announcement. In November, hundreds of union members from the MU, Equity, The Writers’ Guild and BECTU took to Parliament Street for a demo outside the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Members also marched to ACE offices to make their voices heard.

The MU is fighting for three things:

  1. To save the jobs of the ENO’s orchestra
  2. To save the jobs of all those who depend on the orchestra’s survival
  3. To protect the valuable education and outreach work that the ENO does across London – and life changing programmes such as ENO Breathe, which has partnered with 85 NHS Trusts across the UK.

Fighting for every musician’s job

Among music organisations that have received damaging cuts, Britten Sinfonia has also lost all its national portfolio funding from ACE. Welsh National Opera has lost a third of its ACE funding, Royal Opera House has been cut 9% and English National Ballet has been cut 5%. These cuts put full-time and freelance jobs at risk during a cost of living crisis.

And while it is good news that many brilliant organisations have received new or additional funding – including MU partner organisation Black Lives in Music, Multi-Story Orchestra and Attitude is Everything – it is also true that the Government has allowed public funding for the arts to diminish over the past decade. Culture funding is down 46% in real terms since 2005.

That’s why the MU is also lobbying for increased arts funding, and you will see more from the union on this in the coming months.

Keeping the conversation going in Parliament

MPs will be examining ACE funding decisions in a Westminster Hall debate on Wednesday 18 January.

The MU will be briefing MPs in advance both individually and through the Performers’ Alliance All Party Parliamentary Group that the MU leads alongside sister unions Equity and The Writers’ Guild.

Members are advised to look out for more information next week – including a copy of the briefing document to send to your MP and a look at the key points raised in the debate.

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