Glyndebourne has made a major financial commitment to support freelancers working in the performing arts industry and help them recover from the economic damages caused by the Covid-19 health crisis and the associated lockdowns and restrictions on working. This new initiative is known as the Glyndebourne Freelancer Fund.

The effects of the pandemic have been catastrophic for the performing arts, forcing venues all across the world to ‘go dark’ and effectively shutting the industry down. The negative effects of not being able to work fell disproportionately on the sector’s freelance workers.

In response to this, Glyndebourne has formally committed to reserve an amount equivalent to 10% of its annual freelancer costs, which will go towards aiding the Sussex-based opera house’s contracted freelancers. Further details of the Glyndebourne Freelancer Fund are yet to be developed.

“Over the past 15 months, we have all become much more aware of the imbalance between performing arts companies and the freelancers who make up 70% of the theatre workforce,” Sarah Hopwood, managing director of Glyndebourne, commented.

“Glyndebourne will only survive and thrive if we can call on the skills and expertise of those people and we’re determined to play a part in helping to create a new, more equitable support structure for them. While we can’t change the future for freelancers on our own, we can lead the way, so I am really delighted to announce the launch of the Glyndebourne Freelancer Fund.”

The opera house suffered multi-million-pound losses when it was forced to cancel its 2020 festival due to government safety restrictions around the coronavirus health crisis. This year’s festival went ahead as planned. However, continued safety regulations meant that performances had to be socially distanced, with only 50% of the usual audience permitted. As such, the 2021 season is forecast to make further substantial losses.

Glyndebourne received about £5 million in government support from the UK Cultural Recovery Fund, but that does not cover the losses. However, the organisation acknowledges that many technical, artistic and creative freelancers have received no support whatsoever and the new fund is a means of supporting those workers who have been hit hardest by the coronavirus emergency.

The organisation survived the crisis thanks to its relatively strong financial position going into the pandemic and is now focused on ensuring it thrives long into the future through a combination of bold artistic programming and crucial investment to maintain its competitive edge. To this end, Glyndebourne’s 2022 festival will include works by six female composers, comprising two new operas and a neglected masterpiece: an opera by the pioneering feminist composer Ethel Smyth which will open the festival. Further details of Glyndebourne Festival 2022 will be reported on shortly.



Sussex-based opera house Glyndebourne has launched its Glyndebourne Freelancer Fund to provide financial support to technical, artistic and creative freelancers working in the performing arts industry.