Glyndebourne has been forced to cancel its traditional opera tour due to “devastating” funding cuts by Arts Council England.
The Arts Council has sought to ensure “anyone, anywhere” can enjoy high culture by redistributing funds in its newest development, but the move has been called “contradictory” as it denies regional audiences a chance to see the opera.
Glyndebourne Opera House in Sussex has lost half its £1.6m funding as a result of cutbacks and has been forced to cancel its annual tour which aims to bring opera closer to fans across England.
The £800,000 cuts also mean the company will be unable to host scheduled choral concerts in care homes, which has been described as a “huge blow”.
Funding cuts ‘contradictory’
Richard Davidson-Houston, managing director of Glyndebourne, said: “The recent funding deal with Arts Council England is devastating to many in the opera sector, which has been the target of significant cutbacks. This risks weakening the delicate ecosystem in which we operate.
“These cuts were partly justified by the need to redirect public funds to support culture in the regions.
“In this context, the decision to cut funding for Glyndebourne by 50 per cent seems contradictory as it has the immediate, inevitable and predictable consequence of making our tour financially unsustainable.”
The decision to cancel the tour came after Arts Council England announced a new funding settlement in November, which entailed major or complete cutbacks from some leading opera companies. The English National Opera has lost the entirety of its annual grant of £12.8 million.
The Welsh National Opera was cut by a third by £6m and the Royal Opera House lost £3m compared to the £25m grant from the previous financial settlement.
“It’s a huge blow”
Darren Henley, chief executive of the Arts Council, wrote that the settlement would allow a company like English National Opera to “relocate and reinvent itself” outside of London – where it can no longer afford a headquarters – adding that the Council was committed to “ensuring that everyone and everywhere could enjoy the best creative and cultural activities in their hometown or neighborhood.
However, Glyndebourne bosses have expressed concerns that these goals are being undermined, with Stephen Langridge, art director, saying Milton Keynes.
“In addition to the main stage performances, we have planned exciting opportunities for people at these locations to create Glyndebourne music in their community. This could mean hundreds of children singing with the Glyndebourne Choir, workshops in nursing homes and chamber music recitals at universities.
“Unfortunately, we will not be able to offer this extraordinary operatic experience so widely throughout England this autumn.”
Arts Council England has been contacted for comment.