Welsh National Opera: Wales' top artists criticise cuts

Sir Bryn Terfel
Sir Bryn Terfel is among the big names calling for something to be done [Getty Images]

A host of Wales' most famous artists have criticised cuts to the Welsh National Opera (WNO).

A protest letter, signed by the likes of Sir Bryn Terfel, Katherine Jenkins, Michael Sheen and Ruth Jones, has been sent to First Minister Vaughan Gething.

It says funding cuts from Arts Council of Wales and Arts Council England (ACE) would be "devastating".

ACE said it had "unwavering" commitment to WNO and the Welsh government said it had £700m less to spend than in 2021.

Arts Council Wales has also been asked to comment.

WNO announced in April that it is cutting back its spring tour in 2025 and will not be performing in Llandudno or Bristol.

The funding received from ACE was cut by 35%, while Arts Council of Wales reduced its funding to WNO by 11.8% following its investment review announced in September 2023.

Katherine Jenkins
Singer Katherine Jenkins is also on the list of names who have hit out [PA Media]

The letter has been organised by Elizabeth Atherton, herself a singer and member of the Senedd's Cross Party Working Group for Music.

Other names included on it are actor Luke Evans, harpist Catrin Finch and singer Aled Jones.

It warns that WNO is "being forced to make its orchestra and chorus part-time".

It also calls the "potential dismantling of one of Wales' finest national institutions devastating for the nation".

Ms Atherton said: "Without emergency financial assistance Wales stands to lose its flagship arts organisation, a brand that represents Wales globally and attracts international talent to our shores."

She called on the Welsh government to "enter into talks with both representatives of WNO and the UK Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer to discuss how WNO's cross-border agreement for funding can be honoured."

Ms Atherton added that "an emergency package be put in place by both administrations to secure the future of the company".

The Welsh government said: "We have been clear our budget is up to £700m less in real terms than when it was set in 2021 and we have had to take extremely difficult decisions."

ACE said its commitment to opera and classical music is "unwavering" and is investing over £15.3m in the WNO over the next three years for its work in England.

"We know that funded organisations are currently faced with a challenging operating environment and we are working closely with them and being as flexible as we can," they said.