Liverpool still a contender as new home for English National Opera
Liverpool’s civic hierarchy insists the city is still in the running to host English National Opera (ENO) as its new home.
The ENO needs to leave its iconic London Coliseum base after its funding was terminated by Arts Council England (ACE) last year.
Liverpool was one of the first cities to throw its hat into the ring to become the music company’s new home.
An initial shortlist of 14 potential hosts has been narrowed down to five, including Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.
Earlier this month Liverpool leaders called on arts minister, Stephen Parkinson, to ensure a “level playing field” when it comes to the final choice of location.
It followed reports that ministers are backing bids by Manchester and Birmingham as part of their ‘trailblazer’ devolution deals.
In a letter to the arts minister, Liverpool Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, and City Council leader, Liam Robinson, said: “The process so far has been something of a confusing one, with several interested parties taking part in discussions, including the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCSM), Arts Council England and the ENO itself. It would be useful for us to understand exactly who will be making the final decision on a new site.”
ENO will make the final decision on the new location this December, but the shortlist will be put to ACE.
Since Liverpool’s approach to government, ENO has been awarded a £24m grant by ACE and more time to plan its departure from London. It is now expected to be in its new home by March 2029.
Mayor Rotheram and Liam Robinson welcomed the extension of the consultation period, saying: “English National Opera’s relocation is an enormous decision.
“Over the past few months, dozens of highly skilled, exceptionally talented people’s futures have been debated in front of the watching world and we know it must be an extraordinarily difficult and uncertain time for them and their loved ones – which is why it is only right that the period of consultation with staff has been extended.
“Wherever the ENO next calls home, it should be about choosing the place that offers the best fit for the opera to thrive with a long-term, successful future – it is not a decision that should be rushed or taken lightly.
“However, if there is one thing we know for certain, it is that, should we be chosen, everyone associated with the ENO would be welcomed to Liverpool with open arms as one of our own.
“Naturally, we believe that we have set out the strongest, most sustainable case that would allow the company to flourish as it enters its next chapter.
“While the honour of hosting ENO’s new headquarters is not yet within our grasp – we firmly believe it is a prize worth waiting for and we will continue to work with the Arts Council and the ENO in our drive to bring opera to our residents.”