Campaign Activity

London Assembly formally objects to ACE decision in unanimous motion to Save the ENO

In a win for campaigners, City Hall unites to oppose the Arts Council's attempt to force the ENO out of London.

Campaigners and London Assembly members show their support for #SaveOurENO outside City Hall. Credit: Equity.
  • The London Assembly has made a unanimous cross party call for Arts Council England to end its requirement to move ENO outside of London
  • ENO workers and campaign supporters packed the public gallery to hear the motion on the ENO adopted unanimously
  • Assembly Members await an invitation to a meeting with ACE CEO Darren Henley to discuss their concerns

The London Assembly has formally raised its objection to the Arts Council’s shock decision to defund the English National Opera and require it to move out of London, in a unanimous vote receiving cross-party support.

ENO workers who are members of Equity and the Musicians' Union packed the public gallery on Thursday afternoon, along with campaign supporters, to hear the motion tabled by Elly Baker AM from the City Hall Labour Group.

I am delighted to put forward this motion to protect a vital part of London’s economy, and the unionised workers who make culture happen in our city. By adopting this motion today, the London Assembly has made clear to the Arts Council that they need to stop their badly thought out, rushed plan to move the ENO outside of London.

Assembly members speaking in support included Andrew Boff (Conservatives), Joanne McCartney (Labour), Ann Clarke (Labour), Caroline Pidgeon (Lib Dem), Zack Polanski (Greens), and Sakina Sheikh (Labour).

The motion called for no job losses at the ENO as a result of funding cuts, and demanded that Arts Council England (ACE) “end its requirement for the ENO to establish a primary base out of London,” a move that Equity fears will lead to redundancies and rehiring creative workers on precarious, freelance contracts.

The wholesale Arts Council England funding cuts are having a profound impact on the entire creative industry. The Sword of Damocles hangs menacingly over the English National Opera.

The motion was moved by Joanne McCartney AM at the London Assembly’s plenary session, and called on the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to intervene with ACE and the Secretary of State for Culture over the proposed move.

Any such move outside of London will cause significant job losses at the opera company due to the derisory funding offered by ACE to the ENO to facilitate the move. Chorus members currently engaged at the ENO represent one-third of the permanent opera chorus workforce in the country, and the stage management roles are rare permanent jobs in the industry. Equity believes that the costs of a move outside of London would require the ENO to make redundancies to these high quality, unionised roles and reengage people on precarious, freelance contracts.

The full motion can be found here.

A cultural institution that makes opera affordable and accessible, and our members' livelihoods, are being put at risk by an ill-conceived requirement establish a primary base out of London. Equity will continue to defend our members’ jobs, and fight for properly funded opera accessible to all – including working class Londoners.

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