As you may know, Arts Council England (ACE) uses money from the Government and from the National Lottery when supporting arts and culture in England.
On 4 November, ACE announced their grant funding for 2023-2026. I appreciate you sharing your concerns with me about ACE's grant funding allocation, particularly regarding the English National Opera (ENO). I understand the ENO will receive £17 million over three years as part of a plan to create a new base, possibly in Manchester.
I note that the ENO has said that it plans to continue to manage the Coliseum, its current base in London, and will use it to present a range of opera and dance.
I understand ACE has suggested that they may be able to offer transition financing to help the ENO move to another location, such as Manchester.
The funding allocations reflect a broader change in attitudes to culture, with people wanting culture to be much more local, in their own towns and cities. As part of this, one fifth of the funding that used to go to London will be moved elsewhere by 2026.
I appreciate the disappointment that Glyndebourne touring opera has cancelled their 2023 opera tour. The company stated that the reduction in its funding from Arts Council England (ACE) was the reason for the decision. I understand Glyndebourne is to receive 50 per cent less funding, £1.6 million down to £800,000, over the 2023-2026 period.
I imagine you are not alone in your disappointment that Glyndebourne, which has been running since 1968, has made this decision. I note that the usual autumn performances from the tour company at the Glyndebourne opera house in Sussex will continue and the 2023 summer festival is also unaffected.
More broadly, ACE’s investment in opera, orchestras and other classical organisations will represent around 80 per cent of all investment in music. Through the 2023 to 2026 investment programme, opera will continue to be well funded, with it remaining at around 40 per cent of overall investment in music. Excluding the funding for the English National Opera, that is more than £30 million per year for opera alone.
Organisations such as English Touring Opera and the Birmingham Opera Company will receive increased funding, and there are many new joiners, such as OperaUpClose and Pegasus Opera Company. The Royal Opera House and Opera North will continue to be funded.
However, I have been reassured that the Government will continue to work with ACE to understand all the impacts of its investment in arts and culture, including opera.
I appreciate this may not be the response you may have hoped for, but I will ensure my ministerial colleagues are aware of the concerns raised.