The English National Opera is to receive funding of up to £24 million from Arts Council England (ACE) to support its move to a new base outside of London.
On Wednesday, the opera company announced it has been invited to apply for the investment funds which would start in 2024 for three years in addition to the £11.46 million already agreed for 2023/24.
The funding would support the ENO’s “reimagined artistic and business model” to have a primary base outside of the capital while allowing it to continue to “own, manage and put on work at the London Coliseum”.
It comes after the ACE announced plans in November to remove the opera company as a national portfolio organisation, instead proposing the ENO receive a £17 million grant over three years but only if it relocates outside of London, with a move to Manchester suggested.
A joint statement from the English National Opera and Arts Council England said: “Following development work by the English National Opera, Arts Council England has set a budget of up to £24 million 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.”
It added that the provisional budget will be subject to application and assessment with a decision by the ACE expected this summer.
The organisation said they have a “shared ambition” for the ENO to be in a “strong position” to later apply to the Arts Council’s national portfolio of funded organisations from 2026.
The Musicians’ Union welcomed the funding proposal and said the news offered “more security” in the short term.
However, it warned that the provisional budget still represents a real terms 24% cut since 2015 given inflation and that moving to a new location will bring unknown costs.
It said it will continue to work with the ENO to ensure union members get “the best possible outcome”.
MU London regional organiser, Jamie Pullman, added: “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.”
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.”