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English National Opera to Relocate to Manchester Following Arts Council Ultimatum

Under pressure from the Arts Council England, the company chose Manchester from a shortlist of five UK cities


The English National Opera (ENO) recently announced that London will no longer be its home base. The company selected Manchester, the Northern UK city, from a shortlist of five possible locations, which also included Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, and Nottingham.

The decision comes one year on from a controversial announcement by the Arts Council England which threatened to withdraw the ENO’s £12m per annum funding grant if they did not move their home base out of London.

The ENO will make the move north between now and 2029. Manchester is currently the largest city in Europe without its own resident opera company, and while the ENO will not have a permanent performing venue there, they will appear at Aviva Studios and the Lowry Theatre in Salford.

As well as the loss of their home base in the capital, the ENO has been subject to the threat of substantial funding cuts. In October 2023, the company’s then-Music Director Martyn Brabbins resigned in protest at the proposed cuts, which were to axe 19 full-time positions in the ENO’s orchestra and place the remaining full-time musicians onto short-term contracts.

“As we continue to transition through significant change, today's announcement marks an important and defining moment for our remarkable company,” said Jenny Mollica, the ENO’s interim chief executive.

“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.”

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