Proposed cuts make clear the need for a proper strategy to safeguard the ENO and its jobs: Bectu

23 October 2023

The English National Opera (ENO) is proposing a host of cuts to contracts, hours and salaries amidst what it terms ongoing financial difficulties, including post-pandemic recovery and conditions attached to funding from Arts Council England (ACE). 

The proposed cuts include reducing the length of some contracts, reductions in hours and significant salary cuts for Bectu members working in technical roles such as lighting and props, as well as reducing the size of a number of technical teams.  

Responding to the proposals, Head of Bectu Philippa Childs said:  

“The drastic reduction in hours and wages proposed by the ENO is devastating news for our members and the ENO’s supporters more generally. Bectu members and all those employed at the ENO have already faced an incredibly challenging and anxious time in the wake of brutal funding cuts, unconfirmed relocation plans and continued uncertainty.  

“After ACE announced last year that it would remove the ENO’s National Portfolio funding, Bectu and our members campaigned relentlessly alongside others to reinstate funding for the company. It’s unacceptable that our members are now once again fighting for their jobs and their ability to make a living doing what they love.  

“These drastic proposals threaten both our members’ livelihoods and the ENO’s artistic output, from which we will all suffer. Bectu is concerned about the very real risk of a talent flight following these proposals – we cannot expect people to accept such significant cuts in hours and income, and face such career uncertainty, simply for ‘the love of the job’. 

We will continue to do all we can to support our members affected and we are beginning negotiations with ENO management regarding these cuts. It is now more than clear, however, that a proper, sustained strategy is needed to protect both the company’s ability to provide affordable, accessible opera to new audiences in London and beyond, and the highly skilled workforce who make this possible.  

“Earlier this year, alongside our Federation of Entertainment Union colleagues, we called on ACE to produce a realistic strategy for the ENO. We renew that call, and want to see commitment from ACE to work with ourselves, the other unions and the ENO on a thorough and realistic plan for the company, that sets it up for future success and protects the livelihood of its staff and freelancers. 

“The government, too, must step up. It has long been vocal about its desire to see the UK continue to be a leading cultural centre, yet has overseen a programme of cultural vandalism of some of our country’s most revered creative and cultural institutions. It must therefore commit to safeguarding nationally significant institutions and the highly skilled jobs associated with them.”