The English National Opera boss has launched a plan that would see him leave London and see his funding cut.
It comes after Arts Council England said it would cut the company’s £12.6m annual grant from 2023 and instead give it just £17m over three years if she moves out of the capital, possibly to Manchester.
ENO chief executive Stuart Murphy told the BBC the Arts Council’s plan was “crazy and absurd” and said it was simply not feasible.
“We’ve spoken to people who the Arts Council hadn’t bothered to speak to in Manchester, from the world of opera, and to our staff – and it’s just not feasible,” he said. he declared.
“These are people who have been in the business for 40 years. It takes a long time to train to become an opera singer. We cannot just close in one area and start in another.
He said the plan came as a huge shock to staff at the famed cultural institution, as they did everything the Arts Council asked.
“It was a huge surprise for us because our Arts Council report card says we’re doing an amazing job,” he told the broadcaster.
“It reminds us that one in seven audiences is under the age of 35, that a fifth of our singers are ethnically diverse, that the average price of our tickets is a quarter of that of a normal opera house and that we donate tickets free for under 21s.
“And we do these amazing things like ENO Breathe with the NHS that are happening across the country.
“So we’ve kind of done everything that was asked of us and more, even by the Arts Council’s admission.”
The ENO, currently based at the London Coliseum, is now fighting the plans and supporting a petition set up by opera singer Sir Bryn Terfel which has over 17,000 signatures.
The ENO is one of the two opera houses in the capital, along with the Royal Opera House.
An Arts Council spokesperson said: ‘We are demanding that English National Opera move the core of its work to another part of England if it is to continue to receive regular public funding from us.
“We raised Manchester as an option and English National Opera initially took the idea positively.
“The future of English National Opera is in their hands – at this early stage we have announced our funding plans for the next three years, and now we hope to engage in detailed planning with them.
“This would involve English National Opera revamping its business model and finding a suitable location outside of London.”