On Friday 4 November, Arts Council England announced its Investment Programme for 2023-26 of organisations who will receive regular funding from ACE.
We are very pleased that English Touring Opera has been granted the funding that we applied for over the next two years (2023-2025), which includes a 22% uplift to our current annual funding from ACE. We will continue to be part of the Arts Council’s National Portfolio of regularly funded organisations and have, along with a number of other London-based organisations, joined the 'Transfer Programme'. For organisations in the Transfer Programme, the third year of funding in this cycle (2025-26) is to be confirmed by ACE at a later date, depending on the next stages of that Programme.
What that means in practice is that we have committed to a serious feasibility study into moving ETO’s office out of London at some point in this funding cycle. We'll be consulting partner venues and organisations, local councils and schools, looking at where we have strong existing relationships and also where there are gaps in arts provision. We'll be canvassing opinion from artists and audiences about the effects that potential relocation options might have on them, and of course we'll be costing possible plans very carefully. We want to make sure we make an informed decision which will enable us to have the greatest positive impact on the widest possible audience. 85% of our work already takes place outside of London, so exploring the options of the Transfer Programme feels like a natural extension of our mission.
We are proud that the Arts Council England has recognised English Touring Opera’s vital and distinctive work, providing outstanding live opera productions and community projects to audiences across England. We would like to thank ACE for its crucial support and all those involved in bringing our work to the stage.
However, many of our colleagues across the sector have received much worse news, with some deep and surprising cuts to funding which will have long-term impacts on opera provision in this country. In light of those decisions, our mood at ETO is grateful, and relieved, but not celebratory.
As a sector, we are stronger when we stand together. We will be working with all our colleagues to support them, and the provision of the best possible opera for the widest possible audience, in any way we can over the coming months and years.