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Exclusive: English National Opera to screen adverts on safety curtain

ENO's home at the London Coliseum.

English National Opera is planning to use its safety curtain as a screen for projections that will advertise its forthcoming seasons.

The company, based in the Coliseum in London, has submitted a proposal to Westminster City Council that would see its safety curtain repainted to incorporate a “plain white painted area” measuring 12-metres wide by six-metres high.

It said this would be “used as a projection surface pre-show and at the interval to project films showing the ENO forthcoming opera seasons”. It is not clear whether this could be extended to external advertisers in time.

News of the plans come as theatres in France have started to show adverts before performances, as part of a strategy conceived by a Parisian advertising agency.

The company behind the plans has announced a partnership with 12 theatres in Paris [1], which will start showing adverts on a big screen before plays begin.

In 2011, the Ambassador Theatre Group partnered with Pearl and Dean on a short-lived scheme to project Gordon’s Gin adverts on to safety curtains at ATG venues.

ENO had sought dispensation of listed building consent to paint its curtain, which was replaced and repainted in 2004.

Westminster City Council said the proposal to paint the modern curtain does not “affect the character of the listed building”, but warned that installation of a projector may require listed building consent.

A spokeswoman for ENO said: “The application for dispensation of listed building consent for our safety curtain was purely to consider the feasibility of this, as a possibility for the future.”

She said there were no “imminent” plans to use the curtain as a projection surface.