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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 March, 2003, 16:57 GMT
Arts boost for Opera House
The Royal Opera House
Opera is a winner in the spending plan

The Royal Opera House is set to get a 3.1m cash injection as part of a three-year Arts Council England spending plan.

The government-backed organisation, which distributes funds to arts groups across England, unveiled its spending plans for the next three years on Tuesday.

Individual artists will benefit from a 25m fund for the next three years - double what is available to them now.

This government has done more to support the arts in this country than any of its predecessors
Tessa Jowell, culture secretary

While a host of new groups, which do not usually get funding from the Arts Council, will get 123m.

Overall, the Arts Council - funded by government money and lottery receipts - will distribute 410m by 2005/6, compared with 335m in 2003/4.

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell described the funding increase as "spectacular".

"This government has done more to support the arts in this country than any of its predecessors," she said.

"Today's Arts Council allocations will not only help the arts to set world-class standards, but will also mean that they become available and affordable to greater numbers than ever before."

Financial difficulty

The council's decision to pump more cash into the Royal Opera House is part of its "commitment to new work, new artists and new audiences", according to a statement.

The Royal National Theatre will also get 2.4m - to "enable it to enter a new era under its new artistic director, Nicholas Hytner".

As one organisation we have been able, for the first time in decades, to take a 'big picture' approach
Peter Hewitt, Arts Council of England

Not all national organisations did well, however. The beleaguered Royal Shakespeare Company, currently mired in financial difficulty, is to receive less than 750,000.

Organisations to benefit from the spending plans range from the well-known to the more obscure.

Carnival organisations nationwide will get a cash injection of 635,000.

Circus and street arts will also receive a boost. Some 25,000 will go to Brighton-based group Zap, and while Circus Space, in north London, gets 70,000.

The council will pump money into chamber and symphony orchestras and youth organisations such as the National Youth Theatre.

There will be an increase of 1.7m to broaden investment in a wide range of contemporary music, including Asian, African, folk and jazz, and dance will benefit from an increase of 630,000 to the national dance agencies.

Musical performances

The council also announced plans to create new nationwide centres of excellence for music with a 1.3m investment.

The centres - at Aldeburgh in Suffolk, Dartington in Devon and The Sage in Gateshead - will stage musical performances and offer training.

"As one organisation we have been able, for the first time in decades, to take a 'big picture' approach," said Peter Hewitt, chief executive of the Arts Council.

"We have looked at how to apply all of our money to all of the arts across all of England.

"In the process, we have made some clear and tough choices and we have matched our money to exciting ideas and rewarded big, bold initiatives."

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