ENO to start shows earlier, reduce ticket prices and hold relaxed performances to boost accessibility
English National Opera is to introduce earlier performances, reduce its lowest priced tickets and hold its first ever relaxed performance as part of a range of measures to boost accessibility.
The opera company is also extending a programme it launched last year to give under-18s free tickets to its shows.
The initiatives were outlined by chief executive Stuart Murphy as the opera company announced its new season.
For the scheme Early Nights, the company has committed to ensuring one performance of each of its operas will end by 10pm.
Murphy said a third of ENO’s audiences travel on the overground, and that the move was partly to accommodate people who needed to make a train after a show. He added that it was also for those who like “an early bed”.
In addition, Murphy said he never wanted money to “be a barrier for people coming to ENO”.
With this in mind, ENO has frozen its top price at £125, and reduced its lowest price to £10. Murphy said the move comes as other areas of the arts, including West End theatres, put their prices up.
ENO will also extend a scheme offering under-18s free balcony seats to its operas. The programme was piloted on Saturday nights, but will now be extended to Friday performances and first nights.
Murphy said the average age of young people taking up the offer was 11, and that more than 1,000 tickets had already been given out.
“It’s a massive statement for us and should be transformational. I think we will reap the benefits in a generation’s time – it’s what we should be doing,” he added.
The company will also hold its first ever relaxed performance on November 23. The performance of The Mikado will have dimmed auditorium lights and “break-out areas”, allowing people who are learning-disabled to enjoy the show.
“Accessibility is not just about ticket prices, it’s also about if you are learning disabled or physically impaired. Next year, for the first time in our history, we will hold a relaxed performance,” Murphy said.
He added: “It’s something we feel passionately about – that the arts have to be appealing to people with learning disabilities. If it works we will do a lot more of it.”
ENO’s new season features the directorial debuts of both Emma Rice and Wayne McGregor.
Last month, the opera company announced it was dropping subtitles for one performance per production.
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