ETO MAKES SHEFFIELD ITS NEW HOME

 English Touring Opera’s 2023 production of Cinderella © Richard Hubert Smith

ETO to relocate to Sheffield by October 2024 as part of the Arts Council England Transfer Programme

English Touring Opera (ETO) is delighted to announce the city of Sheffield as the company’s new home, and will relocate its offices there by the end of October 2024 as part of the Arts Council England Transfer Programme.

The decision is a result of an extensive and ongoing consultation process with ETO staff, performers and technical teams, as well as partner venues and organisations, local councils and schools to ensure the greatest positive impact on the widest possible audience. 85% of ETO’s work already takes place outside of London, and therefore exploring options as part of the Arts Council England Transfer Programme was a natural extension of the company’s mission to make exceptional artistic experiences available to all. ETO brings outstanding live productions and impactful education and community projects to thousands of people across England each year, visiting more towns and cities than any other UK opera company.

Sheffield is a major, historic city with a thriving cultural and creative industries sector, accounting for 7.2% of Sheffield’s working population – almost double the national average. ETO already has existing links with Sheffield built through its regular visits to Sheffield Theatres on its tours and work with the Sheffield Music Hub and partner schools in the area. This move allows the company to deepen its relationship with Sheffield Theatres and work closely with new partner organisations such as Music in the Round in broadening the scope of their work and introduce new audiences to opera. ETO also looks forward to building on exciting initial discussions around partnerships with Sheffield Hallam and Sheffield Universities. Sheffield is ideally located for much of ETO’s touring cycle, especially for its other venues in the North of England, which include Buxton Opera House, York Theatre Royal, the Gala Theatre in Durham and Storyhouse in Chester.  

ETO’s Learning and Participation programme is central to the company’s mission and reaches over 10,000 people each year through productions in theatres, schools, museums and libraries. This Spring, ETO’s opera for 7-11-year-olds, The Great Stink received 54 performances around the country, including at its partner school in Sheffield. This move will allow the company to build roots within the community and work with local partners, including Sheffield Music Hub and the new South Yorkshire Music Hub, to enrich the musical lives of local residents through dedicated productions for children and members of the community as well as workshops and more.

The initial move will be to a temporary office base in Sheffield, to be completed by October 2024, allowing ETO to form deeper relationships within the city before moving to a permanent home there in 2025. Because of the long-term nature of the company’s planning cycle, ETO will continue to rehearse and open its tours at London’s Hackney Empire in 2025, with the ambition to rehearse and open in Sheffield from the Spring 2026 season.

Robin Norton-Hale, General Director of English Touring Opera, said: “English Touring Opera is delighted to begin its next chapter as we move to a new home in Sheffield. We have built strong links with local audiences in the city 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, and we are looking forward to getting to know the people of Sheffield better, with plans for a community opera in 2026 and long-term partnerships with arts, community and educational organisations.

We are very grateful for the time and energy of all the theatres, government bodies, businesses and local institutions that took part in this process. With Opera North touring from Leeds, and English National Opera’s new base in Greater Manchester, we are excited about the possibilities to grow the audience for this thrilling and multi-faceted artform across the North of England and beyond.”

Councillor Martin Smith, Chair of the Economic Skills and Development Committee at Sheffield City Council, said: “Sheffield is a city of culture and creativity. We have a vibrant music and arts scene, our grassroots offer is exceptional and we also have nationally acclaimed venues and institutions within our culture sector.

“Outside of London, we have the largest regional theatre district and earlier this year we hosted the MOBO Awards.  There is so much going on in the city in the way of arts and creativity 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.” 

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