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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 November, 2004, 17:02 GMT
Opera House faces price scrutiny
Royal Opera House - Covent Garden
The Royal Opera House has signed up to a 10 ticket scheme
Arts organisations such as the Royal Opera House face the risk of losing their charitable status over ticket prices under a proposed bill.

According to the draft charities bill, organisations granted charitable status will have to demonstrate how they provide benefit to the public.

"Expect the Charity Commission to take increasing interest in what you charge," The Stage reported a Home Office official as saying.

However, organisations like the Royal Opera remain confident that the performances alone justify their charitable status, as an organisation providing a benefit to the public.

"Our principle continues to be the presentation of opera and ballet performances at an international level at the opera house, on tour and overseas," said a spokesman for the Royal Opera House (ROH).

Educational activities

He defended the ticket prices, which start at 6, and stressed the "huge range of educational activities across the country" supported by the Royal Opera House.

These include Chance to Dance, which provides free initial dance training for selected children in four London boroughs, and Monday Moves, weekly dance classes for the visually impaired.

He also cited public events like the open air opera held in Covent Garden piazza and Trafalgar Square.

However the spokesman stressed the chief purpose of the Royal Opera House remained "to increase awareness and enjoyment of the art forms that we specialise in".

The draft charities bill, published in May, aims to provide a legal framework in which charities and non-profit organisations can operate.

The government is currently considering the recommendations, which are expected to be included in the Queen's Speech in November.

The Charity Commission will be responsible for carrying out the public benefit checks on all charitable organisations.

Earlier this year, the ROH signed a 1m sponsorship deal with currency firm Travelex, which sees them slashing 100 top price tickets for opera and ballet on Mondays to just 10 each.

The scheme runs from 20 September until November 29, and again from 18 April to 11 June next year.

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