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.
ACE has failed to factor in significant associated costs
The amount being offered for this transition period by ACE, whilst a huge improvement on what was being suggested in November, is notably less than ENO previously received as a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO). Plus, it is now expected to cover the costs of transition together with the establishing of a new base outside London in keeping with the Arts Council’s demands.
ACE has apparently failed to factor in the significant associated costs of establishing a new base in a new city, and any relocation fees required for staff. Transporting the company across several premises will be prohibitively expensive and the Unions are very concerned about how the company will stay intact.
Furthermore, with the money now needed to stretch across two workplaces, this will impact immediately on the amount of opera ENO can effectively produce and deliver, which then reduces the vital income streams from ticket sales and donor investment. In effect, only making the Company proportionately more reliant on ACE funding.
We are fighting for a positive, sustainable and long-term future for the whole orchestral sector
Naomi Pohl, MU General Secretary, said:
"We are fighting for a positive, sustainable and long-term future for the whole orchestral sector. Recent funding decisions have caused significant disruption and left world-class organisations fighting for survival. The orchestra, chorus and crew that make up the ENO company are crucial to its hard-earned reputation and on-going success. They must not be dismantled.
“ENO is innovative and making significant headway in attracting new audiences to opera. They deserve a secure future and for Arts Council England to support them in achieving it."