Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Andrew Palmer
Group Editor
1:43 PM 5th December 2023

ENO And Greater Manchester Announce Plans For New Home In City Region

English National Opera (ENO) and Greater Manchester have announced a new working partnership to develop a new home for the opera company.

The partnership will see ENO and Greater Manchester work together on plans to bring the company’s globally renowned cultural offer to a main base in the city-region by 2029.

Following a rigorous assessment process to decide on this new city base, ENO was excited by the close strategic alignment of Greater Manchester’s values and vision with its own, the potential opportunities to collaborate with the region’s vibrant arts ecology, and the chance to inspire and create work with and for new audiences and communities in Greater Manchester.

This emerging shared vision with partners in Greater Manchester will focus on the development of new innovations in opera, with ambitious creative collaborations in performance, public health and the development of local talent, in partnership with a range of venues and organisations across the city-region.

This announcement follows the agreement reached with Arts Council England in July in which £24m was awarded to ENO to enable the organisation to develop an artistic programme in a new base outside of London during the 2024-26 period.

Following a transition to this new business model over the next two years, ENO will be firmly established within Greater Manchester by 2029, delivering performances, wellbeing and learning activity with multiple partners and venues across the city-region, whilst continuing its substantial opera season every year at its London home, the London Coliseum.

Jenny Mollica, Chief Executive Officer (Interim), English National Opera said:

“ENO is delighted to confirm the start of our new partnership with Greater Manchester from today. As we continue to transition through significant change, today’s announcement marks an important and defining moment for our remarkable company. This future direction will see us continue to expand our role as a national institution – supporting our mission to create work with and for even more audiences across the country, alongside our annual season at the London Coliseum.

"Throughout our discussions with partners and stakeholders in Greater Manchester, we have been struck by an emerging vision for the future of ENO and operatic work in the city-region, defined by a shared ambition to open up new possibilities for opera in people’s lives. We look forward to embarking on new adventures with partners, artists and audiences across Greater Manchester as we create a range of operatic repertoire at a local, national and international scale, inspired by the extraordinary cultural vibrancy of Greater Manchester and its communities.

"We hugely appreciate the generosity, enthusiasm and time given throughout this robust process by all the cities involved, and are heartened by the warmth and openness we have received from Greater Manchester’s cultural sector and city-region leaders as we look ahead to a bright shared future together.”

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said:

“The ENO is one of the most exciting cultural institutions in the country, and we’re immensely proud to be able to bring them to a new home here in Greater Manchester.

“We’ve worked closely with them to set out a shared vision for a future in our city-region, where they can continue making groundbreaking opera, foster new collaborations with artists across the North, and bring their award-winning learning and wellbeing programmes to communities here.

“Greater Manchester’s world-renowned history of radical art, activism, and affecting change, and the cultural renaissance taking place across our towns and cities, makes it the ideal home for the ENO. We can’t wait to welcome them and see where this new partnership takes us.”

Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council, said:

“We’re absolutely delighted that English National Opera is going to make Greater Manchester its new home.

“Manchester today is completely unrecognisable from what it was just a few decades ago. The city has transformed itself over the last 30 years into one of Europe’s fastest growing cities with the largest creative economy in Europe after London.

“We’re a city that puts culture and the arts centre-stage and the impact of this can be seen in the audience numbers, range of venues, skills pipeline and local talent that already exists here in abundance.

“With a growing population, a thriving business sector, and already a global destination for visitors who travel from across the world to Manchester to see our world-class productions, the city region is a perfect fit for ENO and we can’t wait to welcome them and work with them as they make Greater Manchester their home.”

Leeds-based Opera North said it looked forward to continuing to work closely with ENO and other touring companies to offer a coordinated programme of opera for audiences.

"Having grown over the last 45 years since our origins as English National Opera North, we are deeply rooted in the north of England. We are privileged to work across this great region, and we will continue to perform in Greater Manchester as well as across Yorkshire, the North West, North East and the Midlands. We produce a vibrant programme of work all year round, from live, award-winning tours of opera and musical theatre to a vast array of learning and engagement activity across theatres, schools and community venues.

We also know there is need for arts education in many other areas – more than we can provide, despite our thriving, award-winning In Harmony schools programme and other projects. We’re hungry to collaborate with ENO and other arts organisations to make sure that music reaches as many children and young people as possible and to use public funds as effectively and efficiently as we can for the benefit of all."