Opinion: Royal Opera House on UK arts cuts

Sally O’Neill, interim chief executive of The Royal Opera House, releases a statement on the cuts to arts funding in the UK

‘I am encouraged that the government has listened to our concerns and recognizes the value that arts and culture make to both the quality of people’s lives, and also to the economy. 

I now look forward to working with Arts Council England as they determine how best to allocate their resources for the future. We recognize that the five per cent cut will have a significant impact and we will continue to do all we can to support our colleagues across the sector, including those working in the smaller and regional companies who play such a vital role in the creative industries and who may also be impacted by the 10 per cent cut to local governments.

Throughout these difficult economic times, the Royal Opera House continues to provide exceptional value for the money we receive raising more than £3 for every £1 of public subsidy. The current Season has seen 437 performances with 677,000 tickets sold to date, starting at just £5 with 40 per cent priced at £40 or under.

In the 2012-13 Season almost 11,000 people experienced our Deloitte Ignite festival of cutting edge work with most events being free; our ROH Live Cinema Season had its largest audience to date with more than 40,000 people across the UK watching The Royal Ballet’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; our BP Big Screens offer free relayed performances in 22 locations around the country, and content from Royal Ballet Live – a day in the life of The Royal Ballet broadcast online – has been viewed more than 1million times.

Our Learning and Participation activities reached beyond the Royal Opera House and into schools across the country through teacher training programmes, the ROH Bridge programme, as well as the intensive programme of work with school children and the local community in Thurrock and the Thames Gateway where we are leading a cultural regeneration programme in partnership with Creative & Cultural Skills and Thurrock Council.

We also secured our apprenticeship programme for the next decade contributing to the training of young people for backstage skills and crafts for the wider sector, and we work with smaller arts organisations through ROH Connections.

We have already done a lot of work to examine closely every area of our business to see where we could make any further savings and also to see where we can find alternative revenue.  We will continue to be bold and ambitious and keep our confidence going forward as we remain as committed as ever to putting on world class opera and ballet, music and dance, and giving opportunities to as many people as possible to participate in our work.’