Over the weekend and over the past months it’s been heartening to read messages of support from supporters across the arts world – artists, administrators and audience members.
We are reading all of the comments to the online petitions and the whole of the ENO Board and Executive Team is listening.
Let me promise you one thing – we are committed to preserving a permanent chorus at ENO.
However, we have some difficult decisions to make over coming weeks as we seek to find ways to remodel our business so that we can weather a £5million cut from our core Arts Council grant.
ENO is a solvent company and will remain that way. To place the company at threat of another financial crisis would be to risk the future of one of the UK’s greatest cultural assets.
In short, we need to find a way to bridge the gap that a £5m annual shortfall in funding leaves. That will mean producing different work, performing in different spaces, raising more money and increasing our box office revenues, as well as finding ways to increase revenue from the Coliseum as a venue itself. For a few years, we will need to reduce our main stage season at the Coliseum, producing more work in and outside of London. This is a temporary measure and by 2020, we envisage producing 10 large-scale productions on the main stage at the Coliseum and a further 6 around London or outside, including a full repertoire.
It also, inevitably, means finding ways to save costs whilst preserving our artistic quality.
We have reviewed our overhead expenditure and our administration staff and our administrative teams have been cut by 30% over the past 10 years. We are a lean operation and have always ploughed every last penny into the creation of extraordinary opera. With such huge changes being made to our programming and the way we perform at the London Coliseum, it is inevitable that we have to review the contracts with our chorus, orchestra and backstage staff
It is not our intention to further casualise the workforce at ENO. We remain committed to retaining a permanent chorus, orchestra and backstage team.
Whilst we remain committed to our permanent ensembles, we also recognise that we have to make significant cost savings in order for ENO to be a more sustainable organisation in the long-term. We are working towards a solution with the ENO chorus which would see them maintained as a permanent ensemble but with a greater degree of flexibility in their contracts, which reflects the economic reality of ENO’s situation.
We are looking at ways we can reduce our reliance on freelance backstage staff, in order to preserve our backstage ‘family’ and protect full time positions – as these individuals provide the backbone to our company.
We realise that your support is needed now, more than ever. We are doing our utmost to make sure that we can continue to bring the magic of opera at an affordable price to as wide an audience as possible.
8 February 2016