ENO public funding to be slashed

This Is Lancashire: The English National Opera will see its funds drop from £17.2 million to £12.4 million The English National Opera will see its funds drop from £17.2 million to £12.4 million

The English National Opera has seen its annual public funding slashed by almost a third as Arts Council England announced its investment plans for the next three years today.

ENO will see its funds drop from £17.2 million to £12.4 million each year under new arrangements announced today, following an analysis by the funding body into major opera and ballet organisations designed to seek "a better return for public investment".

The Arts Council's spending plans have brought mixed fortunes for many organisations with a small number experiencing increased investment, others dropped altogether and some new ones - such as Matthew Bourne's production company - being added.

Among the "national portfolio" of 670 funded organisations (NPOs), 46 have been newly added while 58 have been dropped, while some have not reapplied. Funding for them will drop slightly overall from £341.4 million this year, to £339.5 million for the coming year.

The 21 "major partner museums" - which include five new additions - see a £1.1 million increase in budget to £22.6 million for 2015/16.

Of the seven major arts and ballet organisations which ACE funds, only the ENO has seen its funding cut. In its report on the funding, the Arts Council said: " In spite of the indisputably ambitious quality of work and the important role this company plays in developing talent, ENO has struggled to reach box office targets and to achieve long-term stability, despite receiving stabilisation funding between 2003 and 2006 and other significant interventions in the preceding years.

"Whilst noting recent improved performance, ENO has drawn heavily on its reserves and both the Arts Council and ENO agree there is now a need for radical change to its business model."

Despite the funding drop, ACE has allocated up to £7.6m to help the organisation move to its new business model and ENO said that with the addition of that money, it actually equates to the figure for which ENO had asked over the next three years.

John Berry, artistic director of ENO, said: "We have been working for some time with the Arts Council to develop a new business plan which recognises the challenging funding climate and reduces the cost to the public purse, while also enabling us to create an exciting and sustainable future for ENO and maintain our artistic quality, ambition and reach, nationally and internationally.

"We announced a number of key elements in that new business plan in April - specifically our approach to balancing commercial and public investment - and we are delighted that the Arts Council is supporting our application with the funding announced today."

London will see its share of national spending reduced slightly, at a time when some have expressed criticism that the capital receives a disproportionate level of funding.

From 2015/16, London will account for 47% of funding, compared to the 49% funded over the past three years.

Major additions to the portfolio include Derby Theatre, Tyne & Wear Museums and Bourne's Brighton-based New Adventures & Re:Bourne.

Bourne, whose company will get £1.3 million annually, said: "Our aim is to continue to make world-class productions and projects for audiences, young people and emerging artists in the South East, across England and around the world."

Today's funding also sees the Grants For The Arts budget increase by £7 million annually to £70 million.

But strategic funds have been reduced considerably from £153 million to £104 million - to maintain funding for the portfolio organisations - with the money targeted on building projects outside London.

Sir Peter Bazalgette, the chair of Arts Council England, said: "We are in the premier league of creative nations and this portfolio will keep us on top in an era of tight funding. We can delight in our arts organisations and museums for the sheer inspiration they bring to our daily lives as well as their contribution to the creative sector. I'm proud that we've been able to deliver such a strong and well balanced portfolio."

He added: "This settlement represents a commitment by Arts Council England to new talent and building England's arts and culture capacity all over the country. When funding is declining you have to set priorities - this we have done."

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