Arts Council commissions ‘independent’ opera analysis

Arts Council commissions ‘independent’ opera analysis


norman lebrecht

January 25, 2023

This might be Arts Council England’s lowest moment.

Last night, in response to protests from every major opera company at its lack of an opera policy, ACE issued this statement:

At the Arts Council we have a single 10-year strategy, Let’s Create, which shapes all our investment and development decisions. We will not therefore develop separate artform or sub artform strategies. But as the national development agency for creativity and culture, for the past few months we have been planning to commission an independent piece of analysis, designed to focus on consideration of opera and music theatre in relation to Let’s Create. This analysis will help us shape our future investment in opera and music theatre and to develop a shared understanding with the sector of the challenges and opportunities currently faced by it. We will share further details of this work later in the Spring.

Got that?

The Arts Council, whose main job it is to make arts policy, has now famrmed it out to persons unknown for ‘an independent piece of analysis.’

That means either the ACE lacks data, in which case it should be shut down, or its lack thinking capacity, in which case its chief executive Darren Henley should take responsibility and resign without further equivocation.


  • Michael says:

    Lumping opera and musical theatre together in their new analysis is just another example of the Arts Council displaying its complete ignorance about opera. The two art forms – both of which I admire and attend – have NOTHING in common! Anyone who thinks they have – other than on the thinnest superficial level doesn’t understand either! Both have music, but one needs microphones; one has a full orchestra, the other a small “band”’; one has routine hysterical standing ovations, the other’s audience awards a standing ovation for something truly exceptional, otherwise it stands because the performance has ended and it’s time to go home! Etc etc!

    • Kenneth Griffin says:

      The review is to be of opera and music theatre, and not of opera and musical theatre as imagined by Michael!

  • Dominic Stafford says:

    The idiocy of this is breathtaking; almost as foolish as the DCMS defining opera as a purely musical artform.

    The fact is that, quite beyond it’s cultural impact as an artform, it has a very significant impact in terms of the recruitment and training of professionals who work throughout a wide range of artforms, throughout the world.

    The government needs to take culture seriously as a major exporter – and opera plays a significant part in that.

    Start by not appointing very junior and inexperienced politicians to the ministry.

    Michelle Donelan is out of her depth, as was Nadine Dorries before her. If you want a serious SoS at the DCMS, appoint Gove.

    • Alan says:

      Give would at the very least be interesting. Or his fellow Bayreuth buddy George Osborne. Get him out of the British Museum- now that would be good news!

  • Alviano says:

    They are willing to look at the subject again and even agree that help is needed. This is positive.
    (they may still be hopeless philistines dedicated to destroying opera in the UK)

  • William Evans says:

    Good grief, when the Arts Council, of all organisations, refers to an ‘independent piece of analysis’ (rather than ‘an independent analysis’) in this statement, we really are in the hands of ignoramuses. What on earth is a ‘piece of analysis’ – one data point, one statistical test, an entire report? Does anyone know? Sorry to be a pedant but this is supposedly a press release by the Arts Council, not some illiterate child.

  • John Soutter says:

    Excellent. Instead of oneself making a decision, have someone else do it. What else is corporatism all about?