Skip to main content

To: Dr Harry Brünjes, Chair of English National Opera

English National Opera: negotiate with Equity to keep the chorus full time on full pay

Management returned to negotiations and reached a settlement with the Chorus. Thanks to everyone who helped add to the pressure over this dispute. (See below for more details)

The ENO chorus performing Otello in 2014. Photo: Getty

I call on ENO management to reach an agreement with Equity to keep a full-time, world-class Chorus and to reverse the decision to reduce their salary to 75% and cut jobs.

Why is this important?

English National Opera, the only opera company in the UK to sing all its repertoire in English, is in trouble.

Its performances are critically acclaimed but its management is in free fall — recently losing its artistic director, chairman, executive director and a third of its public funding.

Now the ENO chorus, who many see as the heart of the company, are threatened with job cuts and having their pay reduced to 75%.

Humphrey Burton, formerly BBC head of music, called this “cultural vandalism”. Sir Antonio Pappano of the Royal Opera House added: “Plans to reduce its chorus members’ contracts and limit its productions to eight a season threaten to destroy ENO.”

They are not alone — last year 14 other leaders of classical music wrote a public letter condemning the changes at ENO and calling for the chorus to be saved.

When they perform the chorus gives audiences 100%, but in the future ENO management want to pay them just 75% of their wages.

If you agree that whatever the recent mistakes at ENO, the chorus should not be expected to carry the cost — if you want to save ENO from a spiral of decline — Please sign our petition

Reasons for signing

  • I used to work in the orchestra and there needs to be a proper fulltime professionla chorus!!
  • Support the arts, not the cuts
  • Too often UK National Institutions that receive Government, i.e. taxpayer, support are being forced into industrial practices whereby the workforce pays for management excesses, a la financial sector.


2016-03-18 14:39:56 +0000

Petition is successful with 6,539 signatures

2016-03-18 14:37:27 +0000

We’re happy to announce the dispute has been resolved. In a negotiated settlement, the Chorus reluctantly agreed to reduce guaranteed pay to help ENO management make savings it says it needs after funding cuts. They negotiated guaranteed pay of £35,000, a considerable improvement on the £30,685 being imposed. Management agreed to work with the Chorus & Equity to increase additional work when no operas are scheduled. This will provide more income and help reach audiences outside London. We hope the deal means management stabilise the company & return it to year-round opera production in the near future.

The Chorus want to thank everyone who signed the petition and stood with them at this difficult time. It helped put pressure on management to come back to the table. It was a major decision for the Chorus to vote for strike action, given their commitment to the best performances for the ENO’s audience, and the public support they’ve received helped hugely in keeping their resolve.

2016-03-10 15:58:00 +0000

ENO Chorus members have been taking their case to Parliament, working with the Performers Alliance All Party Parliamentary Group of MPs. Group chair Alison McGovern MP is writing to Culture Secretary John Whittingdale and Arts Council England CEO Darren Henley calling on them to give public support to a negotiated settlement to the ENO dispute.

And at a special meeting in the Palace of Westminster a member of the Chorus told MPs and Peers that the artistic excellence of what the ENO can deliver was at risk. She warned that the cuts in income will mean that many Chorus members will not be able to afford to stay in the job and may even leave the profession.

You can find out more and read her speech here:

2016-03-04 09:10:38 +0000

Thanks to everyone who's signed so far - it's great we've passed 5,000 people in support of the ENO Chorus. Things are moving on quickly now - with a lack of engagement from management, the Chorus have had no choice but to start a two week period of industrial action.

Rather than damaging the experience for the ENO audience, the Chorus are staging the majority of their action as protests short of a strike. However, the impact of the proposals is so great that they have taken the last resort of planning a strike for one act of the opera Akhnaten on 18 March.

Please help us raise the pressure on ENO management to come to the table, as this action gets underway. Sharing this petition as widely as you can will really help increase the profile of the dispute and get a better result for the Chorus and the future of the ENO.

2016-02-22 18:21:09 +0000

5,000 signatures reached

2016-02-08 18:03:21 +0000

1,000 signatures reached

2016-02-05 20:17:07 +0000

500 signatures reached

2016-02-05 15:37:29 +0000

100 signatures reached

2016-02-05 15:14:47 +0000

50 signatures reached

2016-02-05 14:00:31 +0000

25 signatures reached

2016-02-05 08:46:58 +0000

10 signatures reached