Thursday, December 17, 1998 Published at 13:47 GMT
Extra cash for Royal Opera House
Management of the Royal Opera House has been criticised
The troubled Royal Opera House has received a boost as the Arts Council awarded it increased funding over the next three years.
The Opera House was heavily criticised by a Parliamentary Select Committee in 1997. Earlier this year the Eyre Report set down a number of recommendations for its future survival.
But on Thursday the ROH heard it would be one of the beneficiaries of an extra £30m in government funding, which was announced earlier this week.
The Arts Council budget also sees rises for many other arts organisations.
Since the height of the Opera House troubles a new board chairman, Sir Colin Southgate, has been appointed and recently Michael Kaiser was drafted in as chief executive to give it new direction before the opening of the new building in December 1999.
The Covent Garden site is being rebuilt at a cost of £218m, £78m of which comes from National Lottery funds, but a problem in funding day-to-day activities means the Opera House will remain virtually closed next year.
Mr Robinson said the cash was being awarded primarily to support the production of world class ballet and opera.
He added: "It's unimaginable that we don't have first class opera and ballet in London."
But he stressed the Opera House would have to meet various conditions before the Arts Council released the extra money.
These include opening up the building to a wider audience, ticket prices being brought down and the enhancement of the educational programme.
"The more I see of the progress of the Covent Garden establishment, the more I am aware that this building as well as the artists it houses will provide the most tremendous new asset for the whole country."
For many threatened arts companies and organisations the extra cash will provide long-awaited relief although the cash boost to the ROH is certain to cause controversy.
Major galleries to benefit
Among those companies receiving extra funding are Hull Time Based Arts whose grant rises by 133%, while Artangel and Locus both see their funding double.
A number of art galleries also benefit from increased funding including London's Serpentine Trust (rising by 24.4%), the Whitechapel Gallery (10.5%) and the Arnolfini Gallery (13%).
The Arts Council also marked a new commitment to those organisations which had shown excellence in their fields.
Winners and losers
Those seeing increased budgets include the Royal National Theatre, taking a £1m increase (9%).
London Symphony Orchestra is to receive a 12% rise, City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra gets 10.3% and Bournemouth Orchestras 10%.
The English National Opera finds its grant upped by 5%, to go with an Arts Council stabilisation award - to help the company find a firm footing - of more than £9m.
But many organisations, including Birmingham's Ikon Gallery, were disappointed to receive no grant rise.
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