Norwich Theatre Leads the Charge for the Return of Touring Opera Following Arts Council England’s Cuts

By Afton Wooten
(Photo Credit: Richard Hubert Smith)

New audience research conducted by the Norwich Theatre shows a strong demand and desire for opera to return after numerous cuts from Arts Council England.

Norwich Theatre was one of the regular venues on Glyndebourne’s touring circuit for more than five decades. The company, with the English National Opera, the Welsh National Opera, and Glyndebourne, underwent major cuts from Arts Council English. While acknowledging Arts Council England’s independently conducted analysis, Norwich Theatre is calling for “a clearer strategy and action plan that represents all voices for the future of opera in the regions, as touring productions have been disproportionally affected by the cuts.”

The theatre surveyed 1,144 audience members who attended any of Norwich Theatre’s programs. Results show four key trends – audience levels in opera and demand for the genre have not dropped since COVID, the perception of opera is the challenge – not the art form itself, 25 percent of opera audiences, pre-COVID, were from Arts Council leveling up areas, and that the decisions to cut funding have adversely been discriminatory towards those with access needs and disabled audiences.

As part of their commitment to introducing audiences to opera, Norwich Theatre is collaborating with Buxton International Festival to bring Peter Brook’s “La tragédie de Carmen” to their audience in Norwich in July next year.

Chief Executive and Creative Director, Stephen Crocker said in a press release, “Our research shows that audiences crave opera and that they want to see it nearby. Whilst we welcome the independent analysis being conducted by ACE, it must be swiftly followed with an inclusive action plan that represents touring companies, venues and audiences alike. We are calling on ACE to re-consider and recognise the impact cuts to organisations like Glyndebourne have on access in the regions.”