Today, Arts Council England (ACE) announced a grant of £24 million for the English National Opera (ENO) for April 2024 to March 2026, and a longer timeframe for the ENO to complete the establishment of a new main base outside the capital.
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.
Sir Nicholas Serota, Arts Council England, Chair, said: “As custodians of public money, the Arts Council has led a rigorous process that has carefully considered ENO’s application. The ENO has presented inspiring ideas to bring their excellent work to people beyond the capital and to explore a range of new ways of presenting opera, and we are investing £24 million in the company over two years to help them realise these ambitions. The extended timeline for their transition to a new main base will enable the ENO to undertake this complex move and to develop partnerships in the new city. The Arts Council’s support for opera is unwavering, and we are excited by the ENO’s new plans and by the enthusiasm shown by the potential host cities.”
Dr Harry Brünjes, Chair, The English National Opera said: “The ENO Board and Management look forward to working with the Arts Council to develop this positive future for the organisation. We welcome this investment and additional time which we believe will help us to successfully develop a new main base out of London, whilst maintaining a season at the London Coliseum. We are pleased that Arts Council England support the artistic plans we have proposed in tandem with our longstanding wish to engage with new audiences and partners around the country.
“Our most recent season at the London Coliseum was a fantastic success, and we now have an opportunity to build upon that both within London and from our new base. It is important to note the hard work of our outgoing CEO, Stuart Murphy, and our incoming Interim CEO Jenny Mollica, alongside the ENO’s Artistic Director, Annilese Miskimmon, and Music Director, Martyn Brabbins, throughout this process.”
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said: “The English National Opera is a treasured national institution and I welcome the agreement they reached with Arts Council England to ensure a smooth transition towards a new future for the organisation. I look forward to seeing the plans it develops to make sure more people across the country can experience its fantastic work.”