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Organisation becomes sixth taking part in Arts Council England's Transfer Programme to announce plans to relocate with 18 yet to publicly confirm a move ahead of October deadline.

A production shot from English Touring Theatre
English Touring Opera will set up a temporary base in Sheffield later this year ahead of a permanent move in 2025

English Touring Opera/Richard Hubert Smith

English Touring Opera (ETO) will move its base from London to Sheffield as part of the Arts Council England's Transfer Programme, it has been announced.

The organisation said the decision follows an extensive and ongoing consultation process with ETO staff, performers, and technical teams, as well as partner venues and organisations, local councils, and schools, to "ensure the greatest positive impact on the widest possible audience".

It added that it already has existing links with Sheffield through regular visits to Sheffield Theatres on its tours and work with the Sheffield Music Hub and partner schools in the area.


"This move allows the company to deepen its relationship with Sheffield Theatres and work closely with new partner organisations such as Music in the Round in broadening the scope of their work and introduce new audiences to opera," a statement issued by ETO said.

"ETO also looks forward to building on exciting initial discussions around partnerships with Sheffield Hallam and Sheffield Universities. Sheffield is ideally located for much of ETO’s touring cycle, especially for its other venues in the North of England, which include Buxton Opera House, York Theatre Royal, the Gala Theatre in Durham and Storyhouse in Chester."

The initial move will be to a temporary office base in Sheffield, completing by October 2024, to allow ETO to form deeper relationships within the city before moving to a permanent new home in 2025. 

ETO said that due to the long-term nature of the company’s planning cycle, it will continue to rehearse and open its tours at London’s Hackney Empire in 2025, with the ambition to rehearse and open in Sheffield from the Spring 2026 season.

'Next chapter'

Robin Norton-Hale, General Director of English Touring Opera, said: “English Touring Opera is delighted to begin its next chapter as we move to a new home in Sheffield. 

"We have built strong links with local audiences in the city over more than two decades of performing at the Lyceum Theatre, and we have always been struck by the warmth and enthusiasm we encounter in Sheffield.

"The city’s thriving cultural scene makes it an ideal base for touring our work across the country, and we are looking forward to getting to know the people of Sheffield better, with plans for a community opera in 2026 and long-term partnerships with arts, community and educational organisations.

"We are very grateful for the time and energy of all the theatres, government bodies, businesses and local institutions that took part in this process. With Opera North touring from Leeds, and English National Opera’s new base in Greater Manchester, we are excited about the possibilities to grow the audience for this thrilling and multi-faceted artform across the North of England and beyond.”

Majority yet to confirm

ETO is the sixth cultural organisation participating in Arts Council England's Transfer Programme to publicly announce a move outside of the capital - a quarter of those taking part in the programme.

Under the initiative's terms, the 24 participating organisations are receiving two years of business funding from ACE from April 2023 through to March 2025.

To be eligible for further funding for 2025/26 via a ring-fenced Investment Programme specifically for transferring organisations, they will need to have established a main and registered base elsewhere in England by 31 October 2024.

Others to have already announced a move are Paines Plough, British Youth Music Theatre, Stagetext, Theatre Centre and Clore Leadership Programme, which announced a move to Luton earlier this month.