The English Touring Opera has unceremoniously sacked 14 of its white members, some of whom had worked there for decades, after its recently-appointed Musical Director held auditions “prioritising diversity”. The move has proved sufficiently extreme to anger even the Musician’s Union, which has hitherto been an advocate for such policies. The Daily Mail reports:
The musicians, aged 40 to 66, have been told they will not be offered contracts with the company in Spring 2022 citing diversity guidance from the Arts Council England, the Sunday Times reported.
The musicians, who officially work as freelancers, can be dropped from the opera season-on-season but many have played with the company for up to 20 years and consider it a permanent job.
The Arts Council England has hit back at the ETO, which it funds to the tune of £1.78 million a year, saying it never encouraged the company to sack musicians.
“We did not instruct the English Touring Opera to send this letter,” the Council said. “We are now in conversation with ETO to ensure no funding criteria have been breached.”
The unfortunate artists received the following from the orchestra’s director: