Glyndebourne has announced that the Glyndebourne Tour for 2023 has been cancelled following a significant cut to its Arts Council England (ACE) funding for touring and its learning and engagement work.
The Sussex-based opera house and festival relies on ACE funding to support the Glyndebourne Tour, which takes festival productions to venues across England as well as undertaking learning and engagement work in the towns and cities it visits.
Its application to receive ACE funding as a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) for 2023-26 was successful. However, the £800,000 annual funding offered for that period is at a lower level than applied for. It is half the amount that Glyndebourne received during the previous NPO funding period (2018-22).
Following the ACE announcement in November, Glyndebourne has been exploring alternative ways to make touring financially viable, without success.
Richard Davidson-Houston, Glyndebourne’s managing director, commented: “The latest funding settlement from Arts Council England is devastating for many in the opera sector, which was targeted with significant cuts. It risks undermining the delicate ecosystem in which we operate.
“These cuts have been justified in part by the need to redirect public funding to support culture in the regions. In this context, the decision to reduce Glyndebourne’s funding by 50% appears contradictory because it has the direct, inevitable and foreseeable consequence of rendering our tour financially unsustainable.”
The Glyndebourne Tour first went on the road in 1968 with support from ACE to take the company’s operas to broader audiences around the country and provide a launch pad to emerging talent. In the more than 50 years since, it has been responsible for jump starting the careers of numerous UK and international artists.
Davidson-Houston added: “This news adds to a series of setbacks for freelancers, is disappointing for our loyal venue partners and worsens cultural provision for audiences around the country who have enjoyed Glyndebourne’s world-class opera productions at an affordable price in their local area for more than 50 years.”
The cut comes at a time of rising costs and follows a number of years over which the company has absorbed losses from its autumn tour, which has always been significantly underwritten by the Glyndebourne Festival; the festival receives no public subsidy.
The tour’s outreach and community engagement work at the locations it visits has also been cancelled. Glyndebourne’s artistic director Stephen Langridge said: “It is a huge blow to have to cancel our tour in 2023 which would have taken us to Liverpool, Canterbury, Norwich and Milton Keynes.
“Alongside main stage performances, we had planned exciting opportunities for people in those locations to make music with Glyndebourne in their community. This would have seen hundreds of children singing with the Glyndebourne Chorus, workshops in care homes and chamber music recitals in universities. Sadly, this autumn we will not be able to offer these extraordinary opera experiences so widely across England.”
The opera house has confirmed that autumn performances at Glyndebourne itself will continue, and full details of the revised programme of activity at Glyndebourne in autumn 2023 will be published in the coming weeks.
“Whenever faced with adversity, Glyndebourne responds with creativity and innovation,” Langridge continued. “So we will continue our tradition of performing full-scale opera and concerts in the autumn here at Glyndebourne and build on our long-standing talent development and learning and engagement activity as part of our mission to enrich the lives of as many people as possible through opera.”
Sussex-based opera house Glyndebourne has announced that it will no longer be able to take the Glyndebourne Tour on the road this year due to cuts in its Arts Council England funding (Clive Nichols).