UK Ministry Denies Rumored Plan to Close English National Opera

Classic Arts News   UK Ministry Denies Rumored Plan to Close English National Opera
Spokesmen for the British government have denied claims made by Norman Lebrecht in London's Evening Standard newspaper that English National Opera will be closed to save money for the Olympics, reports The Stage.

According to Lebrecht, a memo was circulating recently at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport recommending that Secretary of State Tessa Jowell pull all funding for the company.

The Stage quotes a DCMS spokesman as saying, "This is complete rubbish. We know of no such memo. It is also, of course, the case that neither the DCMS nor the Secretary of State make decisions about the funding of individual arts companies. This is the responsibility of Arts Council England, whose grants for regularly funded organizations such as ENO are made from grant in aid funding and not Lottery funds."

The ENO has fallen on fiscal hard times recently; technicians threatened to strike last month over chief executive Loretta Tomasi's February announcement that 45 jobs, or 10% of ENO's workforce, would be cut. The company then proposed a period of ten days during which staff could volunteer for redundancy; according to Lebrecht, so many musicians applied that all but one, a 64 year-old horn player, were turned down.

Lebrecht states that tensions boiled over last week when artistic director John Berry yelled, "How dare you question my artistic policy?" at a fellow administrator, in full view of passing colleagues and members of the public waiting to purchase tickets.

There was considerable instability at the company last year after various senior administrators resigned.

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