New Home For English Touring Opera In Sheffield

in Sheffield

The English Touring Opera (ETO) is thrilled to announce that it will be relocating its offices to Sheffield by October 2024 as part of the Arts Council England Transfer Programme. This move comes after extensive consultations with ETO staff, performers, technical teams, partner venues, local councils, and schools to ensure the greatest positive impact on the widest possible audience.

With 85% of ETO’s work already occurring outside London, this relocation aligns with the company’s mission to make exceptional artistic experiences accessible to all.

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A New Chapter for ETO

The decision to move to Sheffield reflects ETO’s commitment to broadening its reach and impact. Sheffield, a major historic city with a vibrant cultural and creative industries sector, represents an ideal new base for ETO. The city’s creative sector accounts for 7.2% of its working population, nearly double the national average, making it a fertile ground for cultural growth and engagement.

ETO has long-standing ties with Sheffield through its regular performances at Sheffield Theatres and collaborations with the Sheffield Music Hub and local schools. This move will deepen these relationships and create new opportunities with organizations such as Music in the Round, Sheffield Hallam University, and the University of Sheffield. Sheffield’s central location is advantageous for ETO’s touring cycle, particularly for venues in the North of England, including Buxton Opera House, York Theatre Royal, Gala Theatre in Durham, and Storyhouse in Chester.

Enhancing Community Engagement

ETO’s Learning and Participation programme, a cornerstone of its mission, reaches over 10,000 people annually through productions in theatres, schools, museums, and libraries. This includes dedicated productions for children, community members, and specialized workshops.

The relocation to Sheffield will allow ETO to build deeper roots within the community and enhance its educational initiatives. Collaborations with Sheffield Music Hub and the new South Yorkshire Music Hub will enrich the musical lives of local residents through various educational and community projects.

Transitional and Future Plans

The initial relocation will involve moving to a temporary office in Sheffield by October 2024, allowing ETO to integrate into the local community before establishing a permanent base in 2025. Despite the move, ETO will continue to rehearse and open its tours at London’s Hackney Empire in 2025, with plans to shift rehearsals to Sheffield by the Spring 2026 season.

Leadership and Vision

Robin Norton-Hale, General Director of English Touring Opera, expressed excitement about this new chapter:

“We have built strong links with local audiences in Sheffield 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.”

Councillor Martin Smith, Chair of the Economic Skills and Development Committee at Sheffield City Council, echoed this sentiment:

“Sheffield is a city of culture and creativity. We have a vibrant music and arts scene, and we are delighted that English Touring Opera will be part of this going forward. I’d like to extend a warm welcome to them on behalf of the Council and the city.”

Upcoming Performances

ETO’s next major performance is a new production of Dame Judith Weir’s Blond Eckbert, a co-production with Britten Pears Arts, which will open the 75th Aldeburgh Festival on June 7, 2024. This production will tour England in the Autumn, alongside a new production of The Snowmaiden by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

Final Points

The relocation of ETO to Sheffield marks a significant milestone in the company’s history, enhancing its ability to deliver exceptional artistic experiences across England. The move is set to foster deeper community engagement, strengthen existing partnerships, and create new opportunities for cultural and educational initiatives in Sheffield and beyond.

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