Champagne and decadent food is ENO’s recipe for accessibility

From an invitation to the ENO Gala Celebration 2019:

You will enjoy a decadent menu specially curated by Bubble Food, and champagne from Charles Heidsieck.

By booking your tickets for this event, you will further the work of ENO Baylis to dispel the myths around the accessibility and relatability of opera.
Dress code: Black tie
Tickets: £399

Repeat after me: The board must go.


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  • You gotta laugh:
    “accessibility and relatability of opera.
    Dress code: Black tie
    Tickets: £399”

    • What’s so funny? It’s a gala celebration; of course it’s going to be glitzy and decadent. It’s there for those who already love opera and who have money to donate, not for first-time opera goers on a low budget.

      The work that ENO’s Baylis department produce is highly deserving of that money.

      • Yeah, no. Of course galas cost money, but a gala is the exact opposite of something accessible.

        This notification reads as tone-deaf in the worst possible way.

        I am usually not on Norman’s side, admittedly. And having performed at ENO, I wish them the best, but all I can say is “wow.” You can have a goal of accessibility (which is admirable, to be sure), but advertising it to a bunch of people who can pay that much while wearing tuxedos/gowns is ridiculous. Anyone saying otherwise is simply missing the forest for the trees.

        • Why on earth would that be ridiculous? Advertising it to a group of people who might be able to afford to help ENO pay for that goal to be achieved is a good thing, no?

      • “The work that ENO’s Baylis department produce is highly deserving of that money.”

        Pity the work that ENO itself has produced in recent years is far from unworthy of the money both the paying audience and the tax payer have expended. Baylis would have quite a lot to say about what is being done, or not done, in her name.

  • Champage and decadent food? Why not? It packs them in at Strange Park and Arseington.

    Or are we still pretending it’s about the music?


  • This is one of those occasions where optics matter. No matter how worthy the ENO Bayliss department, to casual outside observers this gives the impression of a company desperately short of money throwing a decadent party for the rich and famous. Perhaps the ENO Board don’t realise that champagne and rich food is not the only way of raising funds. Yes, Norman, the ENO Board MUST go.

  • This is a matter of dreadful optics! The work of the ENO Baylis Department may well be admirable and important but the parent company is in a quicksand of its own making. There are other creative ways to raise funds other than champagne and decadent food for the rich – even if some of this has been donated. I agree with NL – the Board must go!

  • Help me out, please. What exactly is “decadent” food? I only know two varieties: good food and bad food….

  • Norman:

    the commentary here is short-sighted – opera needs to raise money from donors otherwise it wont exist. i dont see any bile here about the met charging $25,000 a head for their gala in september, or the opera house charging over £5,000 a head for premium tickets at their spring gala.

    if eno are charging £399 a head for their gala night, then thats still cheaper than tickets i’ve paid for a normal performance at roh. You dont seem to have a problem with the accessibility of their ticket prices.

    @IntBaritone – if opera companies didnt do these kind of fundraisers, they wouldnt have the funds to pay your salary. Consider that.

    Galas arent advertised to the general audience, invitations are sent to those that can afford a high ticket price. the last national theatre gala i went to was £1,000 a head – they didnt ask Travelex ticket buyers to get those tickets.

    @Nick2 – all charities have fundraising galas. its not the only fundraising they do, its just the single biggest earner for one event.

    and boards dont organise these things, underpaid and overworked fundraisers do. the eno team are a lovely bunch, they organise my tickets and multiple date changes brilliantly. try getting the roh team on the phone if you dont donate over £100k, ha!

    if a bunch of eno’s donors want a night of entertainment, and the profit from the event supports their bayliss education projects, why do you all have a problem with that? i got an email invitation to this gala, and you havent mentioned that Sarah Connolly is performing. I’m buying a ticket just for that.

    comments on here are tone deaf on how fundraising work in the arts works.

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