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Tuesday, 15 January, 2002, 22:24 GMT
Scottish Ballet pirouettes into row
Scottish Ballet sign
Scottish Ballet wants to press ahead with the changes
Scottish Ballet has rejected calls for a consultation on its future artistic direction.

Chairman Duncan McGhie said the company would "die" if it failed to press ahead with proposed changes.

Mr McGhie said it would see through plans to appoint a new artistic director and become a contemporary ensemble.

But the performers' union Equity presented a petition calling for a new independent board for the ballet.


If we stop the process we are in of bidding for more finance for the companies and looking for an artistic director then the company will die

Duncan McGhie, Scottish Ballet chairman

It currently shares a board with Scottish Opera.

Politicians last month published a report into the ballet's change of direction but they called a meeting on Tuesday to consider further evidence from the ballet company, the Scottish Arts Council and the new Culture Minister, Mike Watson.

Mr McGhie launched a rigorous defence of management plans for Scottish Ballet during a meeting of the Parliament's Education, Culture and Sport Committee.

In a report published last year, the committee described the board's handling of a proposed artistic shift from traditional to contemporary dance as "truly appalling".

The report criticised the lack of consultation before the shift in policy was announced on 15 August last year.

The committee also questioned the wisdom of bringing Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera under a single management board.

Mike Russell MSP
Mike Russell: "Simple way forward"

Scottish National Party education spokesman Mike Russell urged Mr McGhie to extend the contract of the current artistic director, Robert North, beyond August.

"There's a very simple way for you to move forward which is for three months to extend the existing contract and have a three month period of consultation," he said.

But Mr McGhie said that a committee member did not have the right to tell Scottish Ballet to extend a contract of one of its employees.

He said: "If we stop the process we are in of bidding for more finance for the companies and looking for an artistic director then the company will die.

'Artistic vision'

"If we don't have an artistic director the company will not survive and the appointment is dependent on what the candidates observe about the state of the company.

"We are now well into the process of finding our next artistic director and some exciting names are beginning to emerge from that process.

"The plan looks to develop the company to even higher levels of performance than has been achieved to date."

Mr McGhie claimed that despite suggestions to the contrary, he and his board were determined to create a bigger and better company.

The Scottish Arts Council's chairman, James Boyle said: "The process we are in should have an agreed focal point and that's the appointment of an artistic director who will provide artistic vision."

Mr Watson welcomed the news that employees could be represented on the board in the future.

He said his experience in management told him that a business benefits from having the confidence of its workforce.


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See also:

25 Sep 01 | Scotland
Scottish Ballet spins into row
16 Jan 02 | Scotland
Ballet boss told to leave country
20 Sep 01 | Arts
The saga of Scottish opera
14 Jan 00 | Scotland
Anger at executive opera debt 'sham'
08 Nov 99 | Scotland
2.1m opera debt pledge
05 Nov 99 | Scotland
Opera raises cycle of debt fears
03 Nov 99 | Scotland
MSPs launch Scottish Opera inquiry
24 Oct 99 | Scotland
Debt phantom back to haunt opera
23 Mar 00 | Scotland
Crisis talks over opera closure
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