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Sky and Artsworld sponsor the English National Opera

LONDON - BSkyB has teamed up with arts and culture channel Artsworld to sponsor the English National Opera in a deal worth £3m over three years, which is believed to be the biggest corporate deal in UK opera to date.

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The agreement marks an end to the organisation's money troubles, which almost saw it go bankrupt at the beginning of this year, when it fell £4m short of its budget of £28m.

The deal kicks off next year, the ENO's centenary year, with productions such as 'The Ring' and 'The Trojans' and a new staging of 'The Pirates of Penzance'.

ENO has been based at a temporary home at the Barbican while its original home the Coliseum was being restored at a cost of £41m. The opera company moves back to the Coliseum on February 7 in time for the start of the new season.

The cost of the restoration is said to have been within its budget, while box office receipts at the Barbican surpassed expectations with nearly 80% of tickets sold.

Martin Smith, chairman of the ENO Board, said: "I am tremendously encouraged that our new corporate sponsor, Sky and Artsworld, has chosen to support ENO so generously at this important moment in our history. Working with our new management as we return to the restored Coliseum, I feel confident that both parties will derive substantial benefit from this exciting new relationship."

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