Following the announcement of English National Opera (ENO)’s move to Manchester, Equity has warned that it leaves the Opera company’s workforce at risk, without significant investment and a workforce plan to keep chorus and stage management engaged across both cities.
Equity has previously criticised the cut in funding that accompanied Arts Council England’s requirement that the ENO establish a second base outside of London, as it left serious questions about the future of the workforce, who are currently engaged on fair union terms and conditions. These fears were fulfilled in October when ENO management proposed dramatic cuts to singers’ and stage management contracts.
Hilary Hadley, Equity Assistant General Secretary for Live Performance, said:
“Equity notes that ENO has established a second base as directed by the Arts Council.
“We remain concerned for the existing workforce in London. They are currently facing the impact of an extremely uncertain future and dramatic cuts to their contracts.
“It is unclear from this announcement whether there will be any opportunities for them at this second base, and it is our fear that it will further erode good quality jobs on Union contracts for singers and stage management.
“Expansion of the ENO outside of London should not come at the expense of the workforce, or indeed to the detriment of a London opera audience.”
Amy Kerenza Sedgwick, ENO Chorus member and workplace representative for Equity, said: “The only certainty in today’s announcement is that there will be a significant reduction in the work and income for those of us employed at the ENO right now. No levelling up plan worth the name can begin by putting people out of work.
“Moving an Opera company to Manchester, only to employ people sporadically on freelance contracts, isn’t the cultural investment the North deserves.”