England no longer values the profound, weird art of opera – and that leaves us all poorer


n Kyiv, daily performances at the National Opera of Ukraine are acts of brave defiance against the Russian invasion. They symbolise what the country is fighting for: life, culture. In Britain, untouched by war, we seem prepared to destroy our culture without outside help.

The news that English National Opera’s public funding has been removed is shocking, but not surprising. Early this year, the former culture secretary Nadine Dorries insisted that Arts Council England, the arts funding body, take £24m a year out of London. The idea was to redistribute it to places identified in the Tories’ levelling up agenda. The severity and abruptness of this cut to the capital, which was on an already threadbare English budget thanks to George Osborne’s austerity measures, was always likely to mean a disaster for one of the big London arts organisations.

ENO, seen from a certain perspective, is .....

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