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Isabel Fraser reports
"A full merger between the parties was never popular"
 real 28k

Monday, 15 May, 2000, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
Ballet rethink on Opera merger
Scottish Ballet sign
A full merger is now being ruled out
Fresh controversy has erupted over two of Scotland's major arts companies after Scottish Ballet confirmed that a full merger with Scottish Opera would not now go ahead.

A 2.1m bail-out of Scottish Opera by the Scottish Executive was agreed in November on condition that the two companies combined.

However, Scottish Ballet confirmed on Monday that the full merger would not now go ahead and only the boards of the two companies would combine.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent on consultancy fees since the merger was proposed, raising questions over the use of public money.


Scottish Opera office
Scottish Opera was facing bankruptcy
Plans for an all-singing, all-dancing merger were never popular with the parties, but it was promoted as a solution to the financial crisis facing both national companies.

Scottish Opera was on the verge of bankruptcy when the 2.1m was announced.

In ruling out a full merger, Scottish Ballet said service sections like marketing, sponsorship and technical departments would remain separate.

The Scottish Parliament's culture committee said it would be writing to the chairman of the joint board of Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet following the announcement.

The committee convenor, Mary Mulligan, said she would be asking Duncan Magee for his version of events and that MSPs would also seek views from the Arts Council and the unions.

MSPs have been asking questions about how public money has been spent on the arts companies.

Scottish Opera management was criticised in February for its "irresponsible and inadequate" handling of the crisis that took it to the brink of bankruptcy.

A report by the culture committee accused the company of arrogance in expecting to be bailed out when things went wrong.

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See also:

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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