What goes around comes around – and around again

The Guardian reported on the 17th January 2013 that English National Opera had made a loss of £2.2 million for the financial year 2011/2012. Opera is an expensive form of music to put on and it would be easy to snipe away about under represented musics at the expense of opera. How ever there are musicians livelihoods at stake and the financial loss at English National Opera is just part of a much bigger picture. I knocked out a response and it was published in the Guardian on Saturday 19th January 2013

“Jazz Services has always said that we are not in the business of robbing Bryn Terfel to pay Courtney Pine, but we did say that the selection of the national portfolio organisations was a missed opportunity to reshape the landscape for the arts(ENO losses reignite the debate on how to share out  funding 17th January). The solution is a national policy for music that is collectively owned by all parties involved. Regrettably the notion of a portfolio of organisations, which on the surface may seem attractive, is flawed and appears to have the air of a hedge fund about it.

All enterprises worth their salt look at “where are we now and where do we want to be?” It then looks at the resources to achieve its goal. An inescapable problem with ENO’s financial loss is the wider landscape: 625 yards away is the Royal Opera House Within less than a quarter of a mile in London there is a concentration of scarce resources of about £46.6m and two opera companies competing for audiences. There will need to be a short-term fix that I trust will not involve cuts in jobs for musicians; then the Department for Culture Media and Sport, with the Arts Council and the stakeholders in the arts – including audiences – need to look long and hard at the arts landscape and develop joined-up policies that deliver funding on equitable terms for the next funding cycle starting in 2016.

Just for the avoidance of doubt, the audience for opera in England is 1.6 million people; for jazz 2.5 million and for classical music 3.3 million. Total Arts Council funding for opera in England in 2012-13 is about £50m, for classical music £18.3m and for jazz £1.35m”. 

For the links visit http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2013/jan/21/arts-funding-opera-jazz?INTCMP=SRCH

Back in January 1991 I wrote an article  dealing with national structure and strategy that was published in The Stage – www.thestage.co.uk. The article on the financial loss at English National Opera left me with a profound sense of deja vu.

To read the article please click on What goes around comes around – and around.

Attached documents (click to download)

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