This statement has been updated here

General Director, Richard Mantle has made a statement that you can read here


Update (6/7/11): Progress has been made, discussions are ongoing

“It is a huge disappointment that the wider vision of the Bridlington project is currently being overshadowed. Opera North has been leading a community funded community engagement programme for the last two years, which has successfully established seven different choral groups, reaching in excess of 1,500 people in the local area from 0-82.

This is a project that is part of the national curriculum of the primary school we have been working with. Over the last six months, Opera North has worked to build a relationship between the artists and the community, which is the greater focus of our work. The original libretto was presented in the early part of the year with acknowledgement that it would need negotiation with the community. Over the past six months there has been a process of revision, but there has been one issue over which both sides have been unable to move forward from.

Opera North respects Lee’s rights as an author and Beached is a wonderful piece about bringing all different sections of the community together. On the other hand, we can appreciate the viewpoint of the school about when they make the decision to teach PSHE to their pupils. This project is part of their formal learning and pupils from the age of 4 are performing, watching and taking part in the entire piece. PSHE begins from year 5, ages around 9.

As the school is the focal part of the two year operation in Bridlington and with two weeks to go until a public performance, the decision was made to remove the piece and replace it with a celebratory performance of the last two years. The investment of time, musicians, artists, directors and the weekly work over the last two years will not be wasted. It is an amount of £15,000 that risks being ‘lost’, which is the commission fee for the piece.

The complexities of this story are much more basic, it is about local authority guidelines, schools and their governors and even down to the architecture of a performance space which has no on or off stage, meaning all performers are involved at all times.

Lee has raised a hugely valid debate and Opera North wants to be part of this. We have a fantastic reputation for building relationships between artists and communities and are really disappointed that on this occasion it has failed. But we must remember the local community in this and their effort, work and commitment to a new and challenging project. Their performance on the 15th July is still something to celebrate.”