On Wednesday, the Arts Council announced that funding for 2012-15 will be cut by 11% for ENO, 15% for the Royal Opera House and the National Theatre, and 39% for the Almeida, in north London. Some smaller companies and regional theatres will lose all their funding.
Difficult times, but out of hardship often spring new fountains of creativity. Deafness certainly did Beethoven the composer no harm, though Beethoven the man may have preferred his hearing back. The Royal Opera House would obviously like their grant back, but hopefully some exciting projects might emerge from dark shadow of the funding cuts.
The ROH is making parallel efforts to bring in the private sector for lucrative joint projects. It has teamed up with RealD, a film production and technology company, to create a 3-D movie of a production of Carmen that appeared on stage at Covent Garden last year. Last month, it opened on 1,500 screens around the world, including 156 in Britain — a far wider release than most non-studio films receive. “RealD brought us Hollywood clout,” says the ROH’s chief executive, Tony Hall. “We brought our world-class production. We’ll be splitting the profits, and our portion of that will be ploughed back into putting the best possible work on the stage.” Everything from hosting the Baftas to allowing the designer Paul Smith to photograph the Royal Ballet’s dancers for a fee contributes to the pot, and has reduced the proportion of the ROH’s income that comes from grants from 40% to 26% over the past decade.
Photo: Paul Smith’s photograph of the Royal Ballet’s Tamara Rojo – armed to fight the cuts.