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Motion To Save The English National Opera Passed at London Assembly

The motion was passed on Thursday 8 June and called for Arts Council England to end its requirement for the English National Opera to establish a primary base out of London.

Published: 05 June 2023 | 5:11 PM Updated: 08 June 2023 | 3:42 PM
The outside roof detail of the London Coliseum, home of The English National Opera.
The fight to save our English National Opera is not over. Image credit: Shutterstock.

Since Arts Council England (ACE) announced their plans to remove funding from ENO (English National Opera) in November and relocate the Company from its London home, the company has been fighting for survival.

ENO’s business plans - following their discussions with ACE - now include maintaining its base at the London Coliseum and finding a second home outside the capital. It is understood that ACE may endorse this plan but the timescale for finalising proposals, and the amount of funding on offer, remain a cause of concern for the MU, Equity and Bectu as well as the wider arts community.

This Assembly recognises the huge success of ENO’s efforts to make opera affordable and accessible to its audiences

The fight to save our English National Opera and protect the workforce is not over, and the MU attended the London Assembly on Thursday 8 June to see the below motion pass.

The following motion has been proposed in the name of Elly Baker AM and will be seconded by Joanne McCartney AM:

This Assembly recognises the huge success of the English National Opera’s (ENO) efforts to make opera affordable and accessible to its audiences, and the importance of the company’s presence in London to the city’s cultural offering and economy.

 This Assembly remains concerned about the impact to London’s economy and access to culture, following the Government’s instruction to the Arts Council England (ACE) to reduce its overall current investment in the National Portfolio in London.

This Assembly objects to Arts Council England’s insistence that the ENO must move out of London; recalling the unwarranted impact this will have on the lives and livelihoods of ENO workers, represented by Equity, BECTU and the Musicians’ Union; as well as the adverse impact this will have on London’s cultural sector and the economy.

 This Assembly reiterates the need for strong funding for the arts at all levels in all parts of the UK, noting the success of Opera North, previously ENO North; but believes that public funding of opera across the country must not come at the cost of Londoners.

This Assembly calls for:

1.      The Arts Council England to end its requirement for the ENO to establish a primary base out of London;

2.      No job losses at the ENO, and calls on affected parties, including the Arts Council England, to hold talks directly with the affected trade unions and their members, to reach a negotiated settlement;

3.      The Arts Council England to ensure that funding changes do not result in any negative impact to Londoners and that a full programme of offers and events at affordable prices remains at the ENO in London;

4.      The Mayor to write to Arts Council England expressing concern at their plans to remove significant cultural institutions such as the ENO from London and calling on them to change their requirements for the ENO to have a primary base outside of London;

5.      The Mayor to call on the Secretary of State for Culture to provide the funding necessary to keep ENO’s primary base in London to ensure that levelling up does not lead to a loss of cultural offerings or jobs to Londoners.

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