The Musicians' Union 'rejects' Northern Ballet's decision to proceed with cutting the Sinfonia for some touring performances in 2024, labelling the move 'unacceptable'.
Northern Ballet will perform some of its 2024 programmes without a live orchestra after the company said that “extreme financial pressure from many directions” facing the UK cultural sector had made its traditional touring model “unsustainable".
The announcement follows negotiations with Northern Ballet Sinfonia and the Musicians' Union (MU) that began in October. The MU said it “rejects” Northern Ballet's decision to proceed with cutting the Sinfonia for some performances, calling the move “unacceptable”.
Northern Ballet said that “additional fundraising initiatives…alongside other measures” meant that every performance on its spring tour of Romeo & Juliet - Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham, Norwich, London - will be accompanied by its live Sinfonia. However, autumn performances of the same show at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and in Southampton, Canterbury and Newcastle will be performed to recorded music.
The company also confirmed that its tour of A Christmas Carol will be performed to recorded music, while its tour of Jane Eyre will be performed to live music.
Citing “ongoing negotiations, " Northern Ballet said it was “conscious of the uncertainty and distress these are causing for Sinfonia members and the company at large", adding that it was “committed to performing to and commissioning new live music for our work and continue to work in dialogue with our Sinfonia and the MU to achieve this”.
“We are actively fundraising and lobbying key stakeholders on this issue to ensure that in the future, audiences in towns and cities across the UK will be able to experience large-scale ballet accompanied by live music.”
The MU has called upon Arts Council England to agree to a "realistic and sustainable” financial package with Northern Ballet that covers the cost of touring ballet outside of London.
"Axing the orchestra for recorded music is unacceptable. Audiences deserve the full Northern Ballet experience every time," said MU Orchestras Official Morris Stemp.
“Investment is needed right now from Arts Council England whilst a longer-term funding solution is put together to bring the artform to towns and cities in the form that is vital to the experience – with live music at the heart of the production.
"This should be properly underpinned by investment centrally to make ballet available for all.
“That is what levelling up looks like, not live music if you’re in London and recorded music if you’re anywhere else.”