Update on the future of English National Opera
Following development work by the English National Opera (ENO), Arts Council England has set a budget of up to £24million investment for 2024-26. The company will now start the process of making an application to the Arts Council for an award up to this amount. ENO’s developing plans are based on a reimagined artistic and business model with a primary base out of London, whilst continuing to own, manage and put on work at the London Coliseum.
The provisional budget of up to £24million investment for 2024-25 and 2025-26 is to support the ENO make a phased transition to this new artistic and business model, and will include work split between their new main base and London. This will be subject to application and assessment with a decision by the Arts Council expected this summer. This funding would be in addition to the £11.46 million already agreed for 2023/24.
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.
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The English National Opera are pleased to confirm that, following negotiations with Arts Council England, the organisation is to receive £11.46m of National Lottery funding for the next financial year, starting 1st April 2023. This represents a 9% cut from the ENO’s previous funding.
The delay in confirming our financial status has meant that our plans for the season ahead will inevitably have to change, including the postponement of a number of new productions as well as our current Ring cycle, in partnership with the Met, which was due to continue with a new production of Siegfried next season.
However, this level of funding will allow us to honour many of the contracts of the hundreds of freelancers we hire every year, and enable us to continue to make incredible opera available for everyone, in English, with hugely subsidised tickets. It will also allow us to continue the award-winning ENO Breathe, available via 85 NHS Trusts, and ‘Finish This’, available in over 200 schools across the country.
We do remain concerned that this only gives audiences and our workforce one year’s reprieve, and still leaves a huge amount of uncertainty regarding the ENO’s future. For the ENO to meaningfully deliver on the Government’s levelling-up agenda, ACE needs to invest in the organisation at an appropriate level going forward. This has to be done in the context of ACE developing an opera strategy, in conversations with audiences and our colleagues across the industry – something that is still yet to be undertaken by ACE.
The ENO and our audiences remain in the dark as to why ACE decided to remove our status as a National Portfolio Organisation, despite us meeting or exceeding all the criteria they set: one in seven of our audience are under 35, one in five of our principal performers are ethnically diverse and over 50% of our audience are brand new to opera. We have been bringing opera to people nationally via multiple completely free broadcasts, in innovative ways such as car parks via drive-in opera and over TikTok, as well as in more traditional settings, and over 50% of visitors to opera at the Coliseum are from out of London.
Our hope is that, as negotiations for investment for future years continue, some clarity will be provided.
In the meantime, we want to thank everyone for their continued support during this difficult and worrying time for everyone at the ENO.
3 thoughts on “Update on the future of English National Opera 2023/24 and beyond”
I am in love with opera because of ENO, I had never been to opera but went to Satyagraha in 2008 because a friend persuaded ne when I was in London since then I have seen several others in Scotland where I live but I have come to every opera (twice) directed by Phelim from Improbable and hope there are new collaborations planned.
The ENO productions sound wonderful – are innovative, look wonderful. Audiences are totally engaged … My son asked for tickets for Philip Glass when he was 18 … and took a puzzled but now hooked friend … London is not the enemy of greatness but the nurturer of it.
I have been attending ENO ever since my student days and seen more opera here than anywhere else. It’s loss for London opera goers especially younger ones will be incalculable. I glad the Arts Council has thought twice and given a reprieve. I hope they are now thinking about full restoration.