Andrew Marr: Slashing English National Opera funding is 'wanton, idiotic vandalism'

30 November 2022, 19:47

The ENO is losing funding
The ENO is losing funding. Picture: LBC/Getty

By Kit Heren

Andrew Marr has slammed a decision by the Arts Council to slash English National Opera's income effectively by a third, forcing the company to leave its London base.

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The ENO are normally given £12.6 million annually by the Arts Council, but this has been cut to £17 million over the next three years.

Speaking on Wednesday's Tonight with Andrew Marr on LBC, the presenter said that ENO "has done more than anyone to break down the class barriers around opera".

Andrew invited three opera singers to perform on the show to illustrate the power of the music.

'The landscape would be poorer for it!'

Andrew said: "I am, on the whole, against vandalism, even when it's perpetrated by well-spoken are privately educated people wearing well-cut suits. and from my perspective, the decision by the Arts Council for England, to effectively destroy English National Opera is wanton, idiotic vandalism.

"This is a company which has done more than anyone to break down the class barriers around opera, to make good music, something played and sung by people from working class backgrounds, and enjoyed by people of all incomes. 

"It is being rewarded by having most of its money taken away and being ordered out of its home theatre, one of the most beautiful and largest such buildings anywhere in Britain.

Read more: Andrew Marr: 'opera is not snobby - slashing funding is a panicky, political decision that has made this country bleaker'

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CEO of the English National Opera Stuart Murphy

Watch Tonight with Andrew Marr exclusively on Global Player every Monday to Thursday from 6pm to 7pm

He went on: "The company is fighting back hard. Today it brought singers down to Westminster to lobby peers and MPs for a stay of Execution. Now I don't know but my sense is that they are beginning to be listened to properly.

"True, the bureaucrats of the Arts Council remain as snippy as ever. In a recent statement they insisted: 'We require English National Opera to move to another part of England if they wish to continue to receive support from us. ENO’s future is in their hands.'

"You can almost hear the sound of pallid fingers being washed with scented soap and dabbed on a fluffy towel.

"But this battle isn't over," Andrew said. "I was joined a little earlier in the studio by Nicky Spence, one of ENO’s most loved voices; by a fairy from the Gilbert and Sullivan opera Iolanthe otherwise known as Amy Sedgwick and by a magnificently kitted-out Victorian Peer, who occasionally answers to David Newman. 

"LBC, as you may have noticed, does talk radio – and how. But sometimes, just sometimes, you have to have a bit of music as well and tonight my friends is one of those times…."

You can also listen to the podcast Tonight with Andrew Marr only on Global Player.