“Serious concerns” about the two organisations' sustainability over a three-year funding term have led them to be placed under alternative funding arrangements for 2015-18.

Photo of the participating audience at performance at London's Coliseum

BBC Radio 3 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Two organisations that were announced as part of Arts Council England’s (ACE) national portfolio for 2015-18 in July last year have had their proposed funding agreements withdrawn. English National Opera (ENO) and Colchester’s firstsite gallery will no longer be admitted into the portfolio, but instead will be placed under special funding arrangements which will run for two years and one year respectively. ACE said: “all companies offered National Portfolio status must demonstrate that their business plans and their governance are robust enough to ensure the organisations are sustainable over a three-year funding term. In the case of these two companies the Arts Council has continuing concerns which it wants to see addressed.”

ENO is now being offered £12.38m of revenue funding per year for 2015-17 – the same annual amount as was promised in July, but for two years only. This represents a 28% reduction on the amount it received from 2012-15. Firstsite is being offered £814,517 – a slight reduction on the annual £814,527 in its original funding offer, but for one year only.

ENO is undergoing a transition to a more commercial business model and ACE originally promised it an additional £7.6m over the three year funding agreement to support this. This package has now been reduced to £6.13m over the two years. ACE said: “This decision has been taken following a period of working very closely with ENO on their proposed funding agreement, further detailed analysis of their business model by financial consultants and recent uncertainty about ENO’s senior leadership team,” referring to the recent resignations of ENO’s Chair and Executive Director. A transition funding package for firstsite is yet to be confirmed.

A photo of Frances Richens