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BBC Scotland Arts Correspondent Pauline Maclean
"The report is scathing of former management"
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Wednesday, 2 February, 2000, 17:11 GMT
Parliament blasts opera management

Opera Scottish Opera was on the brink of going bust

A damning report into Scottish Opera blames the former management for the crisis which almost closed the company.

The report, by the Scottish Parliament's culture committee criticises the handling of the affair by the board and management of Scottish Opera as "irresponsible and inadequate".

It also accuses them of arrogance in expecting to be bailed out when things went wrong. The company was brought to the brink of bankrupcy until the executive bailed it out with a 2.1m emergency package.

Individuals criticised

The report is the first major investigation by the 10-strong culture commmittee, which is made up of MSPs from all parties.

Convenor Mary Mulligan said: "We have serious concerns that Scottish Opera was allowed to operate on the extraordinary assumption that whenever it got into financial difficulty more money would be made available

Ruth Mackenzie Ruth Mackenzie: "Untrue and unfair"
"Quite clearly, the chairman and general director failed to meet the standards required of them and supervision from the Arts Council was also not of the quality and consistency that should be expected."

But Sandy Orr, who was Scottish Opera's chairman but has since left the company, rejected the criticism and said they had not been given enough time in front of the committee.

"I think it's very disappointing that the report comes out with these conclusions after one hour of evidence," he added.

Council reviewing procedures

Former general director Ruth Mackenzie, now an arts funding advisor to Westminster Culture Minister Chris Smith condemned the report as "untrue and unfair".

The Scottish Arts Council accepted the criticism of its supervision and said with hindsight, problems should have been identified at an earlier stage.

The arts council will review its procedures for monitoring companies and will forward a report to the Scottish executive next week.

The question of whether or not the council should keep its role of supervising the national companies will be thrown open for public debate later this year.

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See also:
14 Jan 00 |  Scotland
Anger at executive opera debt 'sham'
08 Nov 99 |  Scotland
2.1m opera debt pledge
02 Jul 99 |  UK
Companies dance to a new tune
03 Nov 99 |  Scotland
MSPs launch Scottish Opera inquiry
24 Oct 99 |  Scotland
Debt phantom back to haunt opera
05 Nov 99 |  Scotland
Opera raises cycle of debt fears

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