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17th November 2022

English National Opera considering move to Manchester

The English National Opera may relocate to Manchester after a change in funding
English National Opera considering move to Manchester
The old home of English National Opera in Hampstead.Photo: N. Chadwick

The English National Opera (ENO) has announced that it is considering moving to Manchester.

The move comes as the Arts Council shakes up its funding policies as part of “levelling up” the arts sector, a measure designed to reduce inequalities across areas in England.  

The shake-up will see the company set to receive a £17 million grant over three years, instead of a £12.6 million per annum grant, to develop a “new business model” – part of which includes considering Manchester as a new home.

An ENO statement said  that “Today’s [November 4] announcement marks the start of a new chapter for the English National Opera (ENO).” 

The ENO has pursued a modernisation drive in recent years, citing efforts to improve diversity, digital outreach, and supporting the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Praising Arts Culture England’s decision, Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “Thanks to this new government funding package, spreading more money to more communities than ever before, people living in areas from Wolverhampton to Wigan and Crawley to Chesterfield will now get to benefit from the deep economic and social rewards culture can bring.”  

However, not everybody is pleased about the move. Philippa Childs, head of the broadcasting union Bectu, said she was “deeply concerned” by the impacts of the announcement. She said that the ENO and other institutions represented, including the Royal Opera House, now faced the “uncertainty” of a move out of London. 

Hugh Morris, arts journalist for publications such as the New York Times, the Financial Times, and The Guardian, tweeted that it would take a “significant change of fortunes” for the English National Opera to find success in Manchester.

It remains to be seen if the ENO will relocate to Manchester, however, it is clear that Manchester may benefit from these changes in the culture scene.

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