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Friday, July 2, 1999 Published at 14:15 GMT 15:15 UK


Companies dance to a new tune

A single board for Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera

Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera have sealed their attempts to merge by announcing they are to create a single board under one chief executive.

The decision, which follows the resignation last month of Scottish Opera's chief executive, ends a dispute between the two boards over who would have overall control after merging.

The two organisations have been moving towards a merger as part of a cost-cutting excercise to reduce their accumulated debts and ensure their survival.

[ image: Companies are facing cash crisis]
Companies are facing cash crisis
A new joint board and the appointment of a single chief executive will finally bring the companies together.

A joint statement from the companies said an experienced arts manager would be appointed in the short-term to "ensure momentum towards the merger of both companies is maintained".

Both chairs of Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera are to step down on the appointment of a new chairperson from outside the existing boards.

Chairwoman of Scottish Ballet Peg Beveridge said the announcement of a single board "emphasises and strengthens" the companies' commitment to the merger.

She said: "It is a symbol of trust that exists between the two organisations that we can pledge ourselves towards the future in this way.

"So much has been achieved already towards the merger that we are determined for there to be no further delay in bringing the two boards together and in seeking a suitable chief executive to take the companies forward."

'Stable future'

In a separate statement, Scottish Opera Chairman Sandy Orr said: "The most important duty is to secure a stable future for Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet."

The path towards a merger has been anything but smooth.

[ image: Merger path has been rocky]
Merger path has been rocky
Scottish Opera General Manager Ruth Mackenzie, who would have overseen the new merged resources company, recently resigned her post blaming irreconcilable differences with the board of Scottish Ballet for her decision.

The past 18 months have been also turbulent for Scottish Ballet.

Its entire board and artistic director resigned over a cash crisis and morale was said to be low.

It introduced cost-cutting measures, focusing on merging backstage resources - technical departments, wardrobe, make-up and administration - with the loss of about 100 jobs.

All four of Scotland's national companies - Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra - are facing financial difficulties.

All are in debt, largely due to standstill funding from the Scottish Arts Council and the re-organisation of local councils which previously supported them.

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