In an article published on the BBC website on 15 December, Stuart Murphy, Chief Executive of English National Opera, has stated: “I think its headquarters will definitely be outside London [but] we definitely need a presence in London.”
Members have contacted us to express concern about Murphy’s statement, which represents a change in what they understood to be his position – namely that ENO should remain in London, and the Arts Council’s funding cut, which came with suggestions of a move to Manchester, should be reversed.
“This is a shock to our members and their families, who had previously been told that being based in London was vital to the future of the organisation,” said Jamie Pullman, MU London Regional Organiser. “We are seeking urgent clarification as to what would constitute ‘headquarters’, and what a ‘presence in London’ would mean for the jobs of our members.”
MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl commented: “The MU is very concerned that any transition funding, if available, is entirely predicated on ENO moving out of London.
“We understand that ENO does not want to move because the Coliseum is set up for its work and to house its employed company of highly skilled and talented musicians, singers and crew. Their work should primarily be at the Coliseum, in our view, and any plans to widen ENO’s geographical reach should be discussed with the company and the impact on the workforce considered.
“It feels that ACE has ENO over a barrel, and this is not the way to go about safeguarding the future of an organisation that has existed for a century and continues to deliver great art to a wide audience.”