Terry Gilliam to make ENO comeback as opera bosses express cuts fears

  • @MrNickClark

The chiefs of the English National Opera believe that next month’s spending review will be “crucial” in shaping the future of the arts in Britain.

The comments from artistic director John Berry and chief executive Loretta Tomasi came as they unveiled the institution’s new season, which includes the return of Terry Gilliam as a director. 

Mr Berry said: “The next spending round is going to be crucial for everyone in the arts. It’s going to be a really be a big moment.”

The spending review for 2015-16 is set to be discussed in Government next month and the arts fear their already heavily-cut funding will be slashed further.

“There’s a fact that Berlin spends £400m a year on the arts, and that’s slightly more than the Arts Council has to spend on the whole of the UK,” Mr Berry added.

In January, the accounts for 2011-12 revealed ENO’s financial position was under strain with a deficit of £2.5m. Mr Berry admitted there had been “tough times over the past couple of years” but denied the institution was in crisis.

Ms Tomasi said the deficit had been reduced to £800,000 and hoped the budget would be balanced by the end of the next season.

Mr Berry said: “We may be short of money, but we are not short of artists wanting to make the ENO their creative home.”

Among the productions in the 2013-14 season is a new production of Benvenuto Cellini, directed by Terry Gilliam and Thebans, a world premiere, which has a libretto composed by Irish playwright Frank McGuiness.

Revivals include Peter Grimes, Philip Glass’s Satyagraha as well as the popular The Pearl Fishers and Anthony Minghella’s Madam Butterfly.

Among the other works will be a new piece by artist Mathew Barney and composer Jonathan Bepler called River of Fundament. Mr Berry said the season showed a “remarkably diverse and exciting range of work”.