ENO is for Everyone
The Black Lives Matter movement is a pivotal moment in our history. It is only right that as an organisation we respond thoughtfully by looking at our values, how we work, and how to contribute towards making a better world, for every person, of every ethnicity.
Over the coming days, weeks, months and years we will commit to trying to get it right, or at least very much better.
Curated and directed by Simone Ibbett-Brown and film by Nick Kofi, nine people from around the world and living in London sing, dance, speak and play, exploring what it means to raise your voice for the colour of your skin.
Peace on Earth
English National Opera is the national opera house for everyone.
We were founded on the principle that we are open and accessible to anyone, whoever they are.
Therefore our diversity and inclusion strategy has to be right to ensure ENO delivers its core purpose.
In discussing statistics, we want to apologise for any terminology used that may cause offence. As we seek to broaden our diversity and inclusion strategy we are keen to learn more about how this can be engrained not just in the physical representation in our company, but also in our language. We currently use the phrase BAME to refer to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups. We understand that some take issue with the use of this term but we hope that any mistakes in our communication around diversity and inclusion can be seen in the context of a sincere intention to do better.
We are proud that in recent years we have made some headway in terms of representation amongst our workforce. We aim to be in line with the diverse makeup of the United Kingdom with a minimum of 13% employees of an ethnic background, but are also conscious of the increased diversity level of 43% in our theatre’s home city of London.
‘Stars sparkled in the evening air’ from Verdi’s Luisa Miller, performed by David Junghoon Kim
20% of ENO’s principal freelance performers in our last season were from BAME backgrounds and we are committed to ensuring this level of representation on stage is maintained whenever possible.
13% of our chorus is similarly represented and 16% of our Board – to be transparent, that is 2 out of 12 people.
Only one person on our Management Team is BAME which must be rectified. We have made strides but clearly we need to go further.
Already existing programmes include a paid mentoring programme for five BAME directors every year who work closely with more established directors.
This provides opportunities to learn about main scale opera, develop skills and make the relationships that can support individual career progression.
We announced earlier this year that we will be hiring five BAME members of the orchestra from the beginning of our new season and have been delighted that we have had more than fifty applicants for the positions.
This is particularly important as we have no BAME representation in our orchestra at the present time.
Last year we launched our ENO Chorus Fellowship for BAME Singers, resulting in 4 new singers joining our chorus for our past season and also introduced a mentoring scheme for aspiring critics to encourage more diverse voices into the industry, and to counteract the predominately white, male voices who currently act as gatekeepers to the art form.
More than 50% of the participants last season were female, with a similar percentage from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background.
We screen auditions so that those auditioning for roles are completely anonymized to the casting panel – they perform behind a screen, walk on a carpet, do not talk and do not have their gender, age, sexuality, ethnicity or physical ability status on any application form.
We extend this to other roles within ENO – a screened application process removes an applicant’s name, age, qualifications and gender. We believe this allows candidates to relay their values and approach to a position above all else.
We want to commit to ensuring that everyone feels like ENO is their opera company. This means that we will commit to telling a wider range of stories on stage.
We will continue to commit to diverse and inclusive casting on stage.
We will ensure that our workforce represents the diverse makeup of the country we live in, at all levels of the organisation.
And we want to ensure that everyone feels welcome when they step through the doors of the London Coliseum.
ENO is for everyone, and always will be.