Opera Holland Park has cancelled its 2020 season scheduled to run from June, but has committed to paying artists and backstage staff a portion of their fees.
The news comes as English Touring Opera also announces the cancellation of all 52 remaining performances of its spring 2020 tour, but with a commitment to pay all freelances their fees for the full tour.
Opera Holland Park said it was looking at ways to reschedule productions that were due to be staged this year, at future dates and in alternative venues.
In a joint statement, director of opera James Clutton, general director Michael Volpe and chairman Charles Mackay said: “These are unprecedented times that have come at a critical point in our development and they do of course place us in a difficult financial position as a relatively young charity without ongoing public funding. However, we are confident that with the support of our remarkable patrons and supporters, we will show the resilience to withstand this turn of events.”
They added: “Crucially, we also have concerns for the performers, creatives, musicians and all who contribute to our productions, including all disciplines on and off stage, who will now suffer as a consequence. We are acutely aware that they are in a precarious position as self-employed/freelance workers and the Covid-19 crisis has already had very serious ramifications for all of them. We believe it is imperative that we try to assist them as best we can by agreeing to pay a portion of their fees for the season.”
The organisation said it felt obliged to “do what we can and not force those, who make us what we are, to take all of the pain”.
“We would urge all those who have the ability to do so to make whatever gesture they can to help us meet this obligation. We will offer the option to turn your ticket purchases into donations and if you agree we would be extremely grateful for your generosity,” they said.
The opera company also said it was “exploring innovative ideas to enable us to continue our longstanding commitment to bring opera to the community and the community to opera, until a time when we can return to our social visits as normal”.
Meanwhile, ETO artistic director James Conway said: “We are committed to supporting our freelance artists as well as our technical and production staff in the challenging times ahead. We will be paying our 67 freelances their fees for the full tour, all the way to what would have been the final scheduled performance on June 27.”
He added: “We are all heartbroken to cancel this tour, with productions of which we are so very proud. The financial implications for ETO of cancelling such a substantial tour are severe, but with the support of our loyal audiences, we will continue to produce the best opera we can for communities across the country long into the future.”
Like Opera Holland Park, he said the company would be “developing creative ways of continuing to bring music to you, wherever you are, because that matters to us”.