Welsh National Opera Releases Open Letter in Protest of Funding Cuts from ACE

By David Salazar

The Welsh National Opera has released an open letter in response to budget cuts it has received from the Arts Council England and its perceived “campaign against opera.” 

The letter, which was undersigned by Sir Richard Amstrong, Dame Hilary Boulding, Matthew Epstein, Rebecca Evans, John Fisher, Anthony Freud, Helena Gaunt, David Jackson, Gwyn Hughes Jones, Samantha Maskrey, Sir Brian McMaster, Sir David Poutney, Matthew Prichard, Tim Rhys-Evans, Menna Richards, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Lord Wigley of Caernarfon, Geraint Talfan Davies, and Llyr Williams, states that “ACE’s plan to reduce WNO’s funding by 35 percent will not only sharply reduce WNO’s opera provision in England outside London, but will also threaten WNO’s service to Wales, at the very moment that Arts Council Wales (ACW) is undertaking its own strategic review. This is the reverse of levelling up.”

The letter then noted that while the ACE has offered the Welsh National Opera “transition funding,” the proposal includes reductions in the full-time orchestra and orchestra members that would “profoundly change the nature of the company as well as its capacity to deliver the education and community work that has benefited so many young people and communities in Wales and in the English cities to which the company tours.”

Ultimately, the letter calls for “the ACE and Arts Council Wales to work together on this review, to ensure its remit includes England and Wales, and for any reduction in WNO’s artistic core to be resisted while that review is undertaken. Arguably, this could merit an all-UK approach. At the same time, we would urge ACW and the Welsh Government not to compound ACE’s error by any further injury to a company that has burnished Wales’s artistic reputation across the world for three-quarters of a century.”

Read the full letter here.