Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Friday, 31 October 2008

Northern opera proposal evaluated

Leanne Benjamin in Manon - Copyright Bill Cooper
The plans are to open a new opera, ballet and lyric theatre venue

Plans by the Royal Opera House to establish a northern base at Manchester's Palace Theatre are to be examined by the Arts Council.

The proposal from the London-based company was discussed with Culture Secretary Andy Burnham on Thursday.

It was decided that an independent evaluation of the scheme, to open a new opera, ballet and lyric theatre venue at the Palace, would start immediately.

Mr Burnham said the review was the "positive next step".

The Arts Council said the evaluation would look at plans to expand opera and dance provision, develop new audiences and provide more training and skills development to the sector.

It will also consider the possible impact on other cultural organisations, including those already producing and touring this type of work in the north of England and across the country.

Reaction to the Royal Opera House's proposed base in Manchester

Secretary of State for Culture Mr Burnham said: "It has long been a personal priority for me to see national cultural organisations develop a presence outside London.

"So I'm really pleased to see the Royal Opera House's plan moving forward.

"But we must be sure that what is planned is right for the wider cultural scene in the North West, too.

"So an independent review, led by the Arts Council, will be a positive next step."

The Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, London, is home to both the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet.

Tony Hall, chief executive of the Royal Opera House, said: "We're delighted that our proposal met with such a positive response.

"We want to work with the people in Manchester to create something that really benefits the region, something that really takes the brilliant things we do here to new and wider audiences away from the South East."

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: "Establishing a new production and performance base here at Royal Opera House Manchester with training in every aspect of production, from set building to singing, would bring significant economic benefit to the city by attracting more visitors and creating several hundred new jobs for local people."

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SEE ALSO
Talks over opera at city theatre
27 Oct 08 |  Manchester

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