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MU Welcomes Latest English National Opera Funding News

The Musicians’ Union welcomes opportunity for additional funding for English National Opera, but warns it still represents a significant real-terms cut.

Published: 12 April 2023 | 1:28 PM Updated: 13 April 2023 | 12:26 PM
People at the ENO joint Unions demo from November 2022 holding signs reading Fund the Arts.
The MU will work with members and ENO management to ensure that the union gets the best possible outcome for our members. Image credit: The MU ©

The Musicians' Union welcomes the news that Arts Council England have invited English National Opera (ENO) to apply for an additional grant of £24M that will keep funding for English National Opera (ENO) at the current level for the next three years. After an extremely difficult few months for all the individuals and teams that make up the ENO company, this news signals more security at least in the short term.

However, this funding settlement represents a real-terms 24% cut since 2015 and is set against a backdrop of high inflation as well as the unknown costs of potentially moving to a new location. 

The MU will work with members and ENO management to ensure that the union gets the best possible outcome for our members, whether they are the full-time members whose jobs we will fight to protect or the freelancers who are essential to the entire orchestral ecosystem.

MU London Regional Organiser Jamie Pullman said: “English National Opera is a forward-thinking, creative and accessible opera company with an incredibly talented and experienced staff of musicians, singers and crew. It must not be allowed to dwindle or wither on the vine. We will continue to argue for increased funding and a return to National Portfolio status in the next funding round.”

More notice and consultation on major funding decisions is needed

While recognising and celebrating new and culturally diverse organisations receiving funding in the National Portfolio, Arts Council England's surprise decision to cut funding to other organisations has been criticised by trade unions, industry and MPs.

MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl said: “As a general principle, the Musicians’ Union believes that more notice and consultation should be a prerequisite for any major changes to the funding of a National Portfolio Organisation. The ordeal English National Opera staff and people working in NPOs across the country have been through over the past few months must not be repeated.”

Other organisations that lost their National Portfolio Organisation status or received reduced funding in the NPO announcement include Britten Sinfonia, Glyndebourne, Welsh National Opera and London Sinfonietta. The historic Oldham Coliseum closed on 31 May this year.

Find out more about arts funding cuts and their impact in this MU Briefing, put together before a debate in Parliament on Arts Council England funding decisions earlier this year.

Highlights from the campaign to save the ENO and protect arts funding

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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