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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 January, 2004, 17:43 GMT
Opera company's cash advance
Scottish Opera office
Scottish Opera said it was planning ahead
Scottish Opera has been warned to address its financial difficulties after it asked for a 4m advance on its budget for 2004/05.

The Scottish Executive said it should tackle the problem immediately and repeated its call for the company to live within its means.

Scottish Opera said it had not received an increase in funding in line with inflation in three years.

The Scottish Arts Council confirmed it had received the funding request.

An SAC spokeswoman said Scottish Opera had asked for the money to finance "a continuing programme of work".

She said: "Each year for a number of years there has been a requirement for a cash advance from several of the organisations we support.

The executive has given additional support previously with the express requirement to live within their means
Scottish Executive spokeswoman
"This is a common facility, made available to those organisations which lack a capital reserve to rely on in lean times or where commercial borrowing facilities are not available.

"Any advances are planned well in advance so that funding is available in sufficient time."

A spokeswoman for the executive said it was "a matter of great regret" that Scottish Opera had not been able to live within its means.

'Taking the lead'

"The executive has given additional support previously with the express requirement to live within their means," she said.

"It is important that all parties seriously address how provision of opera can best be organised for the people of Scotland."

Scottish Opera said it was discussing its future with the executive and the SAC.

"With them we are working up plans based on known funding," a Scottish Opera spokeswoman said.

Company 'crisis'

"No decisions have yet been made. At the same time, we are taking the lead in discussions on the way forward."

She said a Scottish Opera think-tank which met last week represented "a clear demonstration of our forward thinking".

Scottish National Party culture spokeswoman Roseanna Cunningham said the company "gave the impression of staggering from crisis to crisis".

"Other arts organisations must look on in awe as sums of money they can only dream about are used to bail Scottish Opera out of yet another hole," she said.

"Jobs are at stake and that is an issue that has to be taken into consideration but Scottish Opera simply cannot go on like this."

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