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MPs call for negotiated settlement at ENO

8 March 2016

Alison McGovern MP (left), the Chair of the Performers Alliance All Party Parliamentary Group, is writing to Culture Secretary John Whittingdale and Arts Council England CEO Darren Henley calling on them to give public support to a negotiated settlement to the ENO dispute.

The ENO chorus is threatened with job losses and cuts in earnings of up to 40% and have voted in favour of strike action.

At a special meeting of the Parliamentary Group in the Palace of Westminster a member of the Chorus told MPs and Peers that the artistic excellence of what the ENO can deliver was at risk. “We've trained for many years to be where we are and have decades of experience between us which provide the bedrock for our collective work on stage. We have our own unique sound and group personality - directors can take short cuts because they know exactly how we work. These qualities are finely honed over many years and you tamper with them at your peril. If this chorus becomes part time, that excellence is what is at stake.”

She warned that the cuts in income will mean that many Chorus members will not be able to afford to stay in the job and may even leave the profession.

“Yes, we have received a substantial cut in our Arts Council funding. Yes, we have to seriously prove that we can live within our means. But we believe that the Board of ENO could find these savings in areas which could be built up again later, rather than ripping the very creative heart out of the company. Once lost, it is gone forever.”

The Chorus was loudly applauded by MPs and Peers after they sang Hail Poetry from Pirates of Penzanze.

The Chorus member must remain anonymous because, even though she was talking about her own job, her contract with ENO forbids her and all other members of the Chorus from speaking in pubic about ENO matters. You can read the full text of her address here.

Earlier in the week Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn MP signed a postcard to ENO Chair Harry Brünjes which called on him to intervene to ensure that the ENO Chorus remained on full pay.

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