Following proposed cuts to the English National Opera's Chorus, Equity's Singers Committee and Opera Deputies Committee have released the following joint statement:
"Equity’s Singers Committee and Opera Deputies Committee are deeply concerned to hear about English National Opera’s plans to slash its chorus’ contracts and salaries by 40% and further reduce the size of its chorus.
"The immediate impact of management’s proposed cuts would be disastrous for our colleagues in the ENO Chorus. The repercussions will also ripple across the entire UK Opera workforce and cause profound anxiety amongst the freelance singers we represent, as we see a further contraction of jobs for singers at ENO.
"These cuts have not occurred in isolation. Arts organisations are looking to rebuild after the pandemic with insufficient public funding. When Arts Council England removed ENO from the National Portfolio in November 2022, it did so seemingly without any strategy or rationale behind how funding decisions were made. Meanwhile, cuts were also made to other companies which have reduced the amount of work available for singers, both in terms of the amount of opera produced and the number of singers engaged, putting the workforce under strain. Towns and cities such as Milton Keynes and Liverpool will be deprived of large-scale touring Opera, running directly counter to the aims of bringing opera to new and regionally diverse audiences.
"Regular work, underpinned by good terms and conditions, is vital in ensuring that those from all backgrounds can access, and remain in, a career in opera. When Equity members and others who campaigned to Save Our ENO celebrated a shift in Arts Council England’s position and further funding being made available to the company, they did so in the belief that such funding would protect ENO’s workforce and enable them to keep producing world class, large scale opera for new and diverse audiences. ENO management’s devastating plans simply do not deliver that.
"We extend our full solidarity to members in the ENO Chorus and all other members of the ENO workforce impacted by cuts.
"We urge ENO management to find a sustainable solution to their stated financial challenges which protects the employment of our ENO colleagues with a viable income. We also call on Arts Council England to develop a proper strategy and provide funding for the public provision of Opera for all, including its dedicated workforce."