In a boost to our region’s cultural sector, The English National Opera (ENO) is set to move to Manchester, establishing its main base outside of London.
ENO and Greater Manchester are pleased to announce a new working partnership to develop a new home for the opera company 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 opportunities to collaborate with the region’s vibrant arts ecosystem, and the chance to inspire and create work with and for new audiences and communities in Greater Manchester.
This shared vision with partners in Greater Manchester will support 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.
The ENO was initially given until 2026 to move its headquarters outside of the capital, where it is currently based at the London Coliseum, or lose its Arts Council England funding of around £13m PA. Under a revised plan put forward in July, it now has until 2029 to complete the move, as well as a £24m funding promise for three years from 2024, instead of an initial £17m.
The decision came after the Arts Council was instructed by the government to spread more money beyond the capital, although it will still continue to own, manage and programme at the Coliseum under its “reimagined” business model.
A shortlist of five possible locations was announced in May – Birmingham, Bristol, Greater Manchester, Liverpool and Nottingham.
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.
ENO are excited by 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.
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 and Greater Manchester Business Board (LEP) Member, 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 and Deputy Chair of the Greater Manchester Business Board (LEP), 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.”
Paul Dennett, City Mayor of Salford, said:
“On behalf of Salford’s Culture and Place Partnership, I am excited and proud that ENO have made a decision to embark on a new collaborative working relationship with Greater Manchester.
“This welcome news offers significant new creative and innovative opportunities for Salford and Manchester within GM and we’re really looking forward to welcoming ENO’s internationally respected creative, production and artistic teams.
“We are excited to explore how the City of Salford’s vibrant and creative ecology can collaborate with ENO as future plans are developed. I’m also looking forward to introducing ENO to the cultural partnership in Salford, our fantastic cultural and creative institutions and Greater Manchester’s work around creative health”.
Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England, said:
“This announcement is the culmination of months of hard work by the ENO. ENO’s new base is good news for the people of Greater Manchester. It means excellent opera performances for new audiences and new ways for young people here to experience and participate in opera. It will also bring new opportunities for creative and technical professionals in Greater Manchester to partner with a world-class organisation making innovative work.”
Lucy Frazer, Secretary of State, Department of Culture, Media and Sport, said:
“The English National Opera is a treasured national institution and I am pleased that people across Greater Manchester, the North West and beyond will be able to enjoy their captivating performances more easily.
“I look forward to seeing the exciting new developments in the English National Opera’s journey as they build on this new partnership, level up access to opera up and down the country and create more opportunities for the young people across the North to explore their creative talent.”