Photo: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian
The prestigious Glyndebourne opera company has canceled its 2023 concert program after public funding cuts.
Glyndebourne has been presenting world-class opera productions to audiences across England for over 50 years. But it lost more than half of public funds in a settlement announced in the fall as Arts Council England (ACE) sought to comply with a government instruction to divert money to places underserved by the arts.
Stephen Langridge, the company’s artistic director, said the cancellation of the 2023 tour to Liverpool, Canterbury, Norwich and Milton Keynes, which would include hundreds of children, workshops in care homes and chamber music recitals at universities, was a “huge blow”.
Unlike English National Opera (ENO), whose funding was cut to zero and told it needed to relocate outside of London to be eligible for future grants, Glyndebourne was paid £800,000 a year as part of its autumn settlement covering 2023-26 . However, this amount was half of the annual amounts allocated in the previous funding period 2018-2022.
Glyndebourne’s statement came shortly after Nadine Dorries, the former culture secretary, this week accused the ACE of making “lazy” and “politically motivated” decisions on prize funding. She said the 100 percent cut to ENO’s budget was “pulled up as a ploy to try [to] reverse the equalization and transfer funds to poorer communities in the north of England.”
Glyndebourne said its funding cuts came at a time of rising costs and came after several years during which the company was covering losses from a touring program that was subsidized by the Glyndebourne festival. The festival does not receive any public subsidy.
Since ACE announced its settlement in November, Glyndebourne has been exploring alternative ways to make touring financially viable, but without success, the company said.
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% seems contradictory as it has the direct, inevitable and predictable consequence of financial instability for our tour.
“This news represents another series of setbacks for freelancers, disappointing for our loyal partners, and detracts from the cultural offerings for audiences across the country who have enjoyed Glyndebourne’s world-class, affordable opera productions in their local area for over 50 years. years.”
Langridge said: “As well as performing on the main stages, we have planned exciting opportunities for people at these locations to make Glyndebourne music in their community.
“That would 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.
“However, in the face of adversity, Glyndebourne responds with creativity and innovation. That’s why we will continue our tradition of staging full-scale operas and concerts here in Glyndebourne in the fall and build on our long-term talent development, education and engagement efforts as part of our mission to enrich the lives of as many people as possible through opera. “
In November, Welsh National Opera said it was canceling scheduled performances in Liverpool after ACE funding was cut by 35%. The Royal Opera House also cut funding by 10%.
An ACE spokesperson said: “This has been our most competitive round to date and we’ve had to make some tough decisions and we have a support package available for organizations that have been offered a reduced level of funding to help them adjust.
“In this round, we have increased investment in small and medium scale opera tours by funding organizations such as English Touring Opera and OperaUpClose, and opera will continue to receive 40% of our overall investment in music.”