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MU Responds to Welsh National Opera Cuts

Musicians' Union members in the orchestra of Welsh National Opera (WNO) are facing a reduction in working weeks, equating to a 15% pay cut as a result of a funding shortfall for the company.

Published: 28 March 2024 | 3:03 PM
Exterior of the Wales Millennium Centre Cardiff, where the Welsh National Opera is based.
The Welsh National Opera, based at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, is facing a funding shortfall. Image credit: Shutterstock.

The Union has been campaigning and negotiating for years to ensure Tutti players, the lowest paid in orchestras, receive a salary of more than £30,000. This was finally achieved in all British employed orchestras two years ago, but the proposal from WNO would mean Tutti players are on just over £28,000.

This represents a massive step backwards for orchestral musicians who are highly skilled and trained.

A Devastating situation

Jo Laverty, MU National Organiser for Orchestras commented: “It will be unsustainable for our members to weather such a hit by falling back to salaries they were on five years ago. It is a devastating situation. These proposals are the direct result of underfunding and defunding of opera. It will impact not just on our members but on WNO's audiences in Wales and England.

“This is yet another UK opera company having to contemplate their orchestra moving to part-time employment, meaning stable secure jobs in the profession are simply dying out”.

The MU Steward and Orchestra Committee of WNO said: “We are shocked and saddened to be presented with the proposal of a reduced contract to begin next in April 2025.

“We feel very strongly that the only way to maintain the artistic standards we expect of Wales’s national opera company is through the retention of a full-time orchestra. Anything less than that will have a negative impact on our ability to attract and recruit the best conductors and players, and both the quality and quantity of our output will suffer. A move to part-time would be disastrous for the future success of Welsh National Opera.”

We will support our members at WNO and work with the management

Naomi Pohl, MU General Secretary said: “This is an extremely challenging time for musicians who are facing the cost of living crisis combined with reducing job opportunities. Companies are under-funded and also trying to manage rising costs. The permanent extension of orchestra and theatre tax relief was extremely welcome, but it obviously isn't plugging a very large financial gap.

“We will support our members at WNO and work with the management to explore alternatives to these proposals. Meanwhile we will be taking the issue up with the Government, supportive MPs and the Arts Councils.”

Arts funding

Reverse the cuts, fund the arts

Arts Council England has made major cuts in public funding to arts organisations. The UK's music sector needs more investment to keep it world leading and protect the working people at its heart.

Reverse the cuts, fund the arts

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Exterior of the Wales Millennium Centre Cardiff, where the Welsh National Opera is based.

MU Responds to Welsh National Opera Cuts

Musicians' Union members in the orchestra of Welsh National Opera (WNO) are facing a reduction in working weeks, equating to a 15% pay cut as a result of a funding shortfall for the company.

Published: 28 March 2024

Read more about MU Responds to Welsh National Opera Cuts
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