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Sheffield to be new home for English Touring Opera company

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A leading London-based opera company has announced that it will permanently relocate to Sheffield within two years.

English Touring Opera (ETO) will open a base in the city as part of its sponsor Arts Council England’s funding programme, enabling cultural organisations to leave the capital.

The company was founded to bring opera to areas of the country that would not usually have access to productions, and said the move would be a “natural extension” of its mission.

Sheffield City Council said it was “delighted” by the news.

A temporary office would open this year and a permanent headquarters would be occupied by 2025, an ETO spokesperson said.

The company already had an established relationship with the city’s Lyceum Theatre, which had hosted many of its touring shows, they added.

Councillor Martin Smith, chair of Sheffield City Council’s economic skills and development committee, said: “Sheffield is a city of culture and creativity. Outside London, we have the largest regional theatre district and earlier this year we hosted the MOBO Awards.

“There is so much going on in the city in the way of arts and creativity and we are delighted that English Touring Opera will be part of this going forward.”

ETO, which was founded in 1979, said it would continue to rehearse and open tours at London’s Hackney Empire for now due to the “long-term nature of the planning cycle”.

However, it aimed to find a permanent home in Sheffield in 2025 and open tours in the city from spring 2026.

Robin Norton-Hale, the company’s general director, said: “We have built strong links with local audiences in the city over more than two decades of performing at the Lyceum Theatre, and we have always been struck by the warmth and enthusiasm we encounter in Sheffield.

“With Opera North touring from Leeds, and English National Opera’s new base in Greater Manchester, we are excited about the possibilities to grow the audience for this thrilling and multi-faceted art form across the north of England and beyond.”

ETO also runs a number of community outreach projects to improve access to opera.

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