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MU Responds to Update on Future of the English National Opera

Arts Council England​ have announced a grant of £24 million for the English National Opera for April 2024 to March 2026, and an additional three years for it to establish a new base outside the capital. 

Published: 27 July 2023 | 12:00 PM
ENO leafleting action outside the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 22 July by the MU and Equity with the ENO orchestra and chorus.
ENO leafleting action outside the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 22 July by the MU and Equity, with the ENO orchestra and chorus. Image credit: The MU ©.

Read the joint statement from Arts Council England (ACE) and the English National Opera (ENO) below.

Joint Statement

During the 2024-26 period, the ENO will develop an artistic programme in the new city, whilst transitioning to a new business model, which will see the company deliver a substantial opera season every year in London while developing a significant performance and engagement programme in their new city. The ENO plans to confirm the location of the new city in December this year.

The move to the new base will be completed by March 2029, rather than by March 2026 as originally envisaged. The longer timeframe will mean more stability, allow for consultation with staff, more work in London and more time for the ENO to develop partnerships in the new city and to establish a programme there.

In February 2022, the UK Government instructed the Arts Council to redistribute some of its funding from London to other parts of the country. Arts Council decided to continue to support the ENO but outside its National Portfolio, and in November 2022 it announced it had ringfenced funding for the ENO. Since then, the two organisations have been working together closely as the ENO works to establish a new base outside of London whilst continuing to own, manage and produce work at the London Coliseum. In total, the Arts Council is investing £35.46 million in the ENO between 2023-26. 

 The shared ambition is for the ENO to be in a strong position to apply to the Arts Council’s National Portfolio of funded organisations from 2026. 

This is a vast improvement on ACE’s original announcement

Jo Laverty, MU National Organiser for Orchestras said: “The MU are cautiously pleased that a more realistic, increased timeframe has been set out by Arts Council England for the move of English National Opera to a new base. This will allow necessary room for proper, considered consultation with ENO staff and unions and also with the partners and communities in a potential new base.

“We remain very concerned about our members and all of ENO’s 600 strong workforce during this transition period, and know the destabilising effect this kind of continued level of uncertainty can have on individuals working towards an uncertain future. Nonetheless, this is a vast improvement on ACE’s original announcement on 4 November and we are glad to see that strong, sustained, and rational arguments for ENO’s future made by the MU and others have been taken on board”.

Highlights from the journey to save the ENO

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