30 March 2011 at 4.15pm | Comment on this article
The Royal Opera House, along with all the big national companies such as the National Theatre, RSC and Southbank Centre, are facing a cut over the next three years of 15% in their Arts Council funding. In cash terms this means our grant will be 6.6% lower by 2015. I recognise that this is tough news for all of us in the big organisations but equally I think it is right we share some of the burden of ensuring some of the smaller less well funded companies survive and grow.
We are the largest of all the grant funded organisations and the Arts Council are quite clear that we have more than justified their confidence in us over the last few years. When you look at what we have achieved in the past few months alone you realise what exceptional value we provide for the money we get. Both the world premieres of Anna Nicole the opera and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the ballet, were played to packed houses and by Easter will both have been broadcast on national television. Our partnership work with smaller organisations through ROH2, our development of the art forms of opera and ballet, our education programme which reaches more than 80,000 people each year and our commitment to training through apprenticeships and the Culture Quarter Programme, and the rapid expansion in our digital and broadcast work.
The Arts Council has also announced that we will have a new strategic role for Education. We will have responsibility for improving the local delivery of arts opportunities for children and young people across an area of the South East that includes Essex (within which our new production workshop in Thurrock is situated), Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and parts of North Kent. We are one of ten organisations across the country that has been approved to undertake this additional key role. We will be part of a network that will work closely with ACE to develop links and “bridging opportunities” between arts organisations, artists, children and young people, schools, families and local authorities. We are looking forward to working with colleagues in the arts and education sectors on this.
This is an exciting development for our work to inspire young people’s engagement with the arts and reflects the high esteem in which our education programme is held.
Whichever way you look at it, the next few years will be tough. We’ve already done a lot of work on how the cuts would impact on us. Now we have firm figures we will look in more detail at what these cuts will mean.
Most important is to keep confident about what we do, and keep making bold decisions. These last two extraordinary months are examples of what we do best even in these difficult times.
Tony Hall, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House