English National Opera income up by almost £14m last year

The charity spent most of the previous 12 months under enforced closure because of the Covid-19 pandemic

The English National Opera (Photograph: John Snelling/Getty Images)

Income at the English National Opera rose by 40 per cent last year as it bounced back from its enforced closure during the Covid-19 pandemic, latest accounts show.

The ENO’s total income reached £33.7m in the financial year ending 31 July 2022, an increase of £13.6m from the previous year.

Income from charitable activities saw the biggest increase, growing by almost 1,500 per cent to £17.3m from £1.1m.

This growth can be attributed to its venue, the London Coliseum, having its first full year of operations since the pandemic. The venue was open for only six weeks in the previous 12 months.

Income from donations and legacies also grew, from £2m to £3.5m last year.

The charity’s total expenditure increased by 37.7 per cent to £35m.

The biggest increase was in spending on charitable activities, which rose by more than £12m to £33.4m, due to costs associated with running the London Coliseum.

The ENO said that in 2021/22, it staged seven operas, four new productions and three revivals at the theatre.

Harry Brunjes, chair of the ENO, said: “Despite a challenging economic environment, with the impact of the global pandemic still looming large, there was much to celebrate across the English National Opera’s and London Coliseum’s 2021 to 2022 activity.

“Following nearly 12 months of uncertainty following Arts Council England’s decision to remove the ENO as a national portfolio organisation, we are pleased to have confirmed continued funding from the Arts Council for two further years, in line with the 10 per cent cut received by other leading London-based NPOs.

“We are now working in good faith with the Arts Council as we look to expand the ENO’s footprint outside of London, while continuing to stage world-class work at the London Coliseum.”

The ENO’s latest accounts were filed 159 days late, which led to Companies House issuing a notice for compulsory strike-off last month.

The ENO said the delay was due to it having to wait for confirmation of its subsidy from the Arts Council England.

The notice for strike-off was dropped the following week, but ENO did not comment on how the issue had been resolved.

In July, the Arts Council announced a grant of £24m for the ENO for the period April 2024 to March 2026, which will pay for the establishment of a new main base outside of London.

This decision was made in response to requests from the government to redistribute arts funding to outside of the capital.

In October, Martyn Brabbins, ENO’s music director, announced his resignation over proposed cuts across the charity.

Brabbins said proposed changes to the charity were driving “a coach and horses through the artistic integrity of the whole of ENO as a performing company”.

The Musicians’ Union said the ENO plans to cut 19 musical staff positions and move the rest of its musicians to part-time contracts.

The latter would result in a pay decrease of 40 per cent, according to the union.

The ENO attributed the move to financial difficulties, including paying back its Covid-19 recovery loan as of next year and its compulsory move out of London to continue receiving funding from Arts Council England, according to the MU.

The ENO responded to Brabbins’ statement on X, formerly Twitter, expressing its disappointment and surprise that he had ended his tenure so “abruptly”.

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