BECTU, Equity and MU rally round to support ENO after funding is cut

ENO English National OperaThe leaders of BECTU, Equity and the MU are seeking an urgent meeting with senior management at the English National Opera.

The request is a response to the sudden departure of the ENO’s chairman and executive director and follows the Arts Council decision to place the company into special measures, which means the ENO is no longer part of the national portfolio of arts organisations whose members receive regular funding.

BECTU general secretary Gerry Morrissey said: “We are totally committed to the work of the English National Opera. The entire company works extremely hard to meet audience needs.

“However, through no fault of theirs, our members now find a question mark over their future employment. We will be seeking assurances from the Board and senior management that they have a strategy to satisfy the requirements set out by the Arts Council.

“Looking at the challenges for the Arts Council, it is vital that it does not treat ENO’s grant as one which can be cut and redistributed.

“The ENO has delivered innovative work for over 80 years. The unions, staff and company supporters will not allow the current difficulties faced by ENO to alter the way the company is viewed. ENO cannot become a sacrificial lamb.”

Equity’s Head of Live Performance Hilary Hadley said: “Great cities deserve great art and London needs an opera house that produces opera sung in English which is accessible to all. We are wholly committed to the long term survival of the ENO as a full time opera company in London producing opera in English and Equity and all other entertainment unions are willing to discuss with the new leadership ways that we can help.

“No business model can survive the degree of cuts the company has had to absorb and we believe that it is the overall reduction in arts funding which has caused the Arts Council to question the long term future of the ENO. Restoring government investment is essential and reversing the cuts to the arts will be a key campaigning issue for Equity members in the run up to the general election.”

MU general secretary John Smith said: “ENO’s excellent artistic output is not in question and the company continues to produce opera productions of the highest standard.  We support the decision John Berry, Artistic Director, has taken to preserve ENO’s full time orchestra and chorus and hope his plans to significantly increase income over this transitional period are successful.

“The entertainment unions collectively represent hundreds of workers who rely on the company’s survival.  We hope the Arts Council will continue to invest in its future.”


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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