Glyndebourne cancels 2023 tour after cuts to its public funding

Opera company Glyndebourne has cancelled its 2023 touring programme after cuts to its public funding.

The prestigious venue, located near Lewes, East Sussex, has taken its productions to audiences around England since 1968.

It said it had been successful in its application to the 2023–2026 national portfolio of Arts Council England (Ace) but the £800,000 annual funding offered was half that received during the last period.

In November, Ace announced a new national portfolio of funding for museums, libraries and other art organisations featuring investment to 276 new institutions.

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That meant a total of 990 institutions will share £446 million each year, up from 714 organisations previously, resulting in institutions such as the Donwar Warehouse and others seeing a cut to their annual funding.

Richard Davidson-Houston, managing director of Glyndebourne, said: “The latest funding settlement from Arts Council England is devastating for many in the opera sector, which was targeted with significant cuts.

“It risks undermining the delicate ecosystem in which we operate.

“These cuts have been justified in part by the need to redirect public funding to support culture in the regions.

“In this context, the decision to reduce Glyndebourne’s funding by 50% appears contradictory because it has the direct, inevitable and foreseeable consequence of rendering our tour financially unsustainable.

“This news adds to a series of setbacks for freelancers, is disappointing for our loyal venue partners and worsens cultural provision for audiences around the country who have enjoyed Glyndebourne’s world-class opera productions at an affordable price in their local area for more than 50 years.”

Glyndebourne’s artistic director, Stephen Langridge, said it was a “huge blow” to have to cancel the tour, which would have taken in Liverpool, Canterbury, Norwich and Milton Keynes.

He added: “Alongside main stage performances, we had planned exciting opportunities for people in those locations to make music with Glyndebourne in their community.

“This would have seen hundreds of children singing with the Glyndebourne Chorus, workshops in care homes and chamber music recitals in universities.

“Sadly, this autumn we will not be able to offer these extraordinary opera experiences so widely across England.”

Additionally, the English National Opera has been removed from the ACE portfolio entirely.

Instead, the company has been offered £17 million over three years, conditional on relocating outside of London.

An Ace spokesperson said: “This was our most competitive round to date, and difficult decisions had to be made, and we have a package of support available to organisations offered reduced levels of funding to help them to adapt.

“This round we have increased investment in touring opera at the small and mid-scale size by funding organisations such as English Touring Opera and OperaUpClose, and opera will continue to receive 40% of our overall investment in music.

“In total, in the new portfolio, nearly one thousand organisations will receive a share of £446 million each year, creating a fairer spread of cultural investment in a wider range of work, across the whole country, benefitting more people.”