PAPER SUBMITTED BY THE ARTS COUNCIL
The Arts Council of England welcomes the Select Committee's
decision to commission a report on the response to their recommendations
on the Royal Opera House (ROH) from their 1997 inquiry. The Arts
Council has been working closely with the ROH since the opening
of the new House in December 1999 to ensure that excellence, education
and access are at the heart of its culture and its operation.
We feel that considerable progress has been made
in terms of access and were encouraged to learn that 45 per cent
of people attending performances in the main auditorium during
the opening season were new to the Royal Opera House's database.
The proportion of new attenders for performances varies depending
on the repertoire. Popular repertoire, such as Swan Lake or The
Nutcracker, attracts proportionately significantly larger numbers
of new database records than other work, at 51 per cent and 60
per cent respectively. Up to 71 per cent of attenders at performances
in the Linbury Studio Theatre appear to be first time attenders
to the ROH.
Overall (excluding daytime opening visitor figures)
the organisation estimates that it has attracted over 180,000
new attenders since it opened last year. Outreach and education
work has also been strengthened, and the creation of the Linbury
and the Clore studios has opened the work of the ROH to a new
audience, and enabled the ROH to welcome a wider range of artists
into its building.
Select Committee Inquiry Response
The Arts Council's detailed response to the questions
raised by Mr Colin Lee in his letter to Peter Hewitt, Chief Executive
of the Arts Council of England, dated 15 August 2000 are as follows.
1. What has been the subsidy for the
Education Department of the Royal Opera House in each year from
1998-99 onwards and is it separately identified?
The Royal Opera House will receive an annual subsidy
of £20 million from the Arts Council of England for this
year, 2000/01, the first full year since the new House opened
in December 1999. The Education and Access expenditure for the
2000/2001 season at the ROH will be £1,078,000.
The Arts Council firmly believes that education is
a central function of any arts organisation, and our organisational
aim is 'to promote access, education and excellence in the arts
through partnership'. We believe that education must be at the
heart of an organisation and owned by that organisation. Ringfenced
funding can lead to ringfenced thinking and we do not believe
that hypothecating subsidy would necessarily lead to an improvement
in education provision. That said, the Arts Council does place
educational requirements on its funded organisations, through
the funding agreements. Details of the education requirements
contained within the Arts Council/Royal Opera House funding agreement
are given below in answer to question 2.
2. If not, what information and undertakings
does the Arts Council of England seek from the Royal Opera House
on the annual budget of its Education Department?
The Arts Council is in receipt of the Royal Opera
House's annual budget which reveals the detail of the annual project
and overhead costs of the ROH Education Department and its activities.
The ROH presented the Arts Council with its Strategic
Plan in January 2000. A meeting was held that month which included
a full discussion with the Director of Education. Annual Reviews
are held of the work of the Royal Ballet, the Royal Opera and
the Education Department.
The Arts Council and ROH have a funding agreement
which governs the relationship between the two organisations.
With regard to education and access the funding agreement for
"Education and Access:
- To develop new and enhanced access and education
programming including outreach, in-reach, continuing education,
staff development and leadership activities, and to maintain sufficient
resources fully to service ROH's expanded education brief;
- To furnish clear policy directions and strategies
for the programming of all the spaces within the new House and
to describe how any possible tensions between the demands of artistic
and educational programmes in those spaces may be resolved. As
part of this planning process the ROH Director of Education is
asked to produce a strategic overview of the role of education
within the new House and examine and report on education opportunities
in all the physical spaces offered by the new building;
- To furnish plans for Broadcast access showing
the integration of access, audience, broadcast and external relations."
We have repeated these targets in the funding agreement
for 2000-2001. We have requested a further report from the ROH
Director of Education in December 2000, and we will hold a review
of the Education Department's work before the end of the year.
3. What information has the Arts Council
of England sought and obtained from the Royal Opera House on trends
in the representation of State schools at school matinees?
The work of the ROH's education department is not
restricted to school matinee performances, although 6,300 children
attended the first season of schools matinees sponsored by BP,
with tickets priced at £6. A full list of the projects undertaken
during the inaugural season of the new House in 1999/2000 is enclosed
in Annex 1. These projects range from the Write an Opera Project,
designed to introduce primary school teachers and their students
to a structured process, enabling them to create and perform original
opera, to Chance to Dance, which enables 150 children aged
7-11, from 50 schools in Lambeth, Southwark and Hammersmith and
Fulham, to attend weekly classes. The project is in its tenth
year and this year a second Chance to Dance student joins
the Royal Ballet School.
The number of UK schools taking part in ROH education
department projects in 1999/2000 was 288. Of these 260 were from
the state primary, secondary, sixth form and home education sector.
22 schools were from the independent sector and 6 were from the
vocational dance sector. These figures closely reflect the state/independent
sector pupil ratio of 93:7. The ROH actively discriminates in
favour of state schools as audiences and participants for its
work. They also favour state schools from boroughs in particular
need and with particular social or economic disadvantages.
4. What conditions relating to the
matters referred to in the previous questions are included in
the Funding Agreement between the Arts Council of England and
the Royal Opera House?
Schedule 2 Section 1 of the new agreement requires
the ROH to provide the Arts Council with details of expenditure
on education and outreach work. It also requires the ROH to submit
a completed Annual Statistical Survey Form for 2000/2001 (which
provides ACE with information on education activities and education
programme costs, amongst other things) and a self-assessment paper
for 2000/2001. The self-assessment form provides the basis for
the Arts Council's annual review of the organisation and includes
assessment of its education work. This procedure is in line with
all other organisations that we fund.
The Funding Agreement for 2000-2001 also states that
'The Arts Council has already received a full report on ROH's
progress in meeting the recommendations of the Eyre Report. We
will continue to monitor that progress and review it in March
5. What is the Arts Council of England's
assessment of the progress achieved in terms of seat prices and
the wider availability of tickets?
The opening of the new building in December 1999
saw the implementation of a revised policy on ticket pricing.
This reduced prices for most seats and also ensured that a proportion
of all seats at all prices were available for direct sale to members
of the general public through the Box Office. Special lower price
schedules were introduced for performances on Friday and Saturday
evenings and further reductions were made for matinees.
To provide the general public with another alternative
to the usual methods of booking tickets and to alleviate pressure
on the Box Office at the start of telephone booking, a public
postal booking period was introduced in September 2000. To publicise
this public postal booking service, a high-profile advertisement
campaign has been run making it very clear that tickets for ROH
productions are on sale to the general public at a wide range
of prices. Although no detailed analysis of the public response
has yet been completed, early indications suggest that the majority
of the 5,500 successful applications (of a total of 9,000) were
from first time attendees and those not already on any ROH patrons
An undertaking was made by the ROH that a guaranteed
minimum of 20 per cent of tickets, at each price range and for
every section of the theatre, at performances in the first season
were to be made available for sale to the general public through
the Box Office when public booking opened for each booking period.
However in the event, 50 per cent of its tickets on the main stage
were made available to the general public through the Box Office
during the first season.
Analysis of seat prices
Below is an analysis of seat prices for both Royal
Opera and Royal Ballet performances.
- Royal Opera prices during the opening season:
Over 50 per cent of the tickets cost:
£30 or less for matinees
£40 or less on Friday and Saturday evenings
for price category A productions (including Gawain, Otello and
£45 or less from Monday to Thursday for price
The cheapest tickets available for the Royal Opera
cost just £6.
- Royal Ballet prices during the opening season:
Over 50 per cent of the tickets cost:
£18 or less for matinees
£22 or less for mixed programmes (different
pieces performed in one programme) on Friday and Saturday evenings
£25 or less for mixed programmes on Monday to
£25 or less for full-length ballets on Friday
and Saturday evenings
£30 or less for full-length ballets on Monday
to Thursday evenings
The cheapest tickets available for the Royal Ballet
cost just £2.
Pricing for the second season 2000/2001
Following a comprehensive review of the pricing structure,
the Royal Opera House has modified the prices and price bands
for performances by both the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet
for the 2000/2001 season. The objective of this re-pricing was
to offer a wider choice of seat prices in all areas of the auditorium
and reflect the observations of audience members and staff from
the first season. The new pricing structure came into place for
the first performance of the 2000/2001 season in September 2000.
The aims of the new structure include:
- The price of tickets in the Stalls Circle and
Amphitheatre and Balcony Boxes has been reduced. For premium operas,
the seats in the Stalls Circle and Amphitheatre will be reduced
in price by up to 54 per cent.
- The productions classified as top priced premium
operas have been reduced in number. In the first season in the
re-developed house there were four premium operas, for 2000/2001
there are twoWagner's Tristan and Isolde and Verdi's
The new pricing structure means that:
- For the 2000/2001 season, at least 54 per cent
of the seats, at all performances by the Royal Ballet, will cost
£39 or less.
- Almost 900 seats for ballet matinees cost less
- Almost 500 seats at all Royal Ballet performances
cost £11 or less.
- More than 480 seats for any performance of standard
opera cost £20 or less.
- Almost 400 seats for any performance of standard
opera cost £12 or less.
- Over half the seats for all opera performances
cost under £50.
- In the season as a whole there are over 200,000
seats for sale in the main auditorium at £35 or less for
performances by the Royal Ballet or Royal Opera.
Analysis of the wider availability of tickets
Below is an analysis of the wider availability of
tickets for the Royal Opera and Royal Ballet.
- The numbers of tickets sold through the Box Office
to the general public have improved from 50 per cent for the first
season to 57 per cent for the current season.
- tickets were ordered online from the 149,160
people who made a 'quality' visit to the royaloperahouse.org.uk
- tickets for the second season were sold as a
result of the new public postal booking service.
6. What is the Arts Council of England's
assessment of the progress achieved with regard to a culture of
accessibility, not exclusivity, at the Royal Opera House and in
the financial planning of the Royal Opera House since 1998 and
since re-opening in particular?
The Arts Council of England is confident that the
opening of the new Royal Opera House signals a distinct new chapter
in the company's history. Since opening in December 1999, the
new ROH has welcomed 196,529 daytime visitors to the building
(not including backstage tour visitors, those attending performances,
or those going to the building to buy tickets). The new building
is open during the day enabling visitors to the Covent Garden
piazza access to the House. The ROH is currently considering extending
its opening hours further.
The creation of the Linbury Studio Theatre and the
Clore Studio Upstairs has had a positive effect in opening the
Royal Opera House to many more people. Between the beginning of
December 1999 and mid-August 2000 the ROH presented 249 performances
on the main stage, a further 233 events in the Linbury Studio
Theatre and an additional 59 events in the Clore Studio. In addition,
the ROH ran 507 backstage tours to a total of 12,600 people and
a further 16,961 people attended a free concert or other event
in the Linbury Studio Theatre.
Further facts and figures:
- per cent of people attending performances in
the Linbury Studio Theatre during the opening season had never
been to the Royal Opera House before.
- tickets were sold for main stage performances
and a further 39,640 seats were sold for events in the Linbury
- people attended the free lunchtime recitals in
the Linbury Studio.
- first-time attendees came to performances during
Hamlyn Week (where performances subsidised by the Paul Hamlyn
Foundation target various groups eg members of a particular trade
union, retail workers etc) paying between £1 and £9.50
for a ticket.
- TV audiences of 12 million watched the series
of programmes broadcast during the opening period.
- The live broadcasts to the Covent Garden piazza
of Tosca on 12 September and Les Contes D'Hoffman on 29
September were both well-attended and well received. 4,500 attended
the screening of Tosca and 2,500 braved wet conditions to view
Les Contes D'Hoffman. Three broadcasts per year are planned
for the three years 2000-2003.
- The ROH sold 6,940 tickets to the 1,695 patrons
on their disability access database.
The Arts Council is pleased with the progress made
in this area. All the above has led to a change in the culture
of the ROH. While the main bar in the Vilar Hall may still feel
'formal', the upstairs Amphitheatre Bar is lively, casual and
houses a much more varied audience. The events in the Linbury
and Clore studio theatres attract an even wider range of audiences,
a number of whom buy tickets on the day. A wide range of companies
have worked in these spaces, including Escape Artists (a theatre
group of ex-prisoners) and young experimental choreographers.
The broadcasting deal with the BBC has also made
the ROH more accessible to audiences. Care has been taken with
the presentation of live relays to ensure that they are less formal
and more engaging in their tone. A live ballet was broadcast for
the first time in many years, and the opening night broadcast
was heavily trailed on BBC One and Two, and programming included
a quiz and behind the scenes shorts as well as the opening programme
Much has happened since the Select Committee conducted
its inquiry into the Royal Opera House in 1997. The new Royal
Opera House opened in early December 1999, on budget and on time.
Considerable steps have been made by both the Arts Council of
England and the Royal Opera House itself to bring about change
at the House. The appointment of Michael Kaiser has done much
to improve both the financial health of the ROH and its public
perception. The challenge for the ROH now is to replace Michael
Kaiser with an equally inspirational Executive Director. Sir Colin
Southgate's proposed changes to the Board structures are expected
to streamline and improve the governance of the ROH.
The Arts Council of England is satisfied with the
education work currently being conducted by the Royal Opera House.
In the opening season (December 1999 to August 2000) 109,936 children,
young people and adults participated in activities organised by
the ROH Education Department.
We are also pleased that the Royal Opera House is
making genuine progress in its quest to drive down ticket prices.
Producing world class opera and ballet is not cheap but the ROH
is maximising other revenue sources, such as sponsorship, in order
to offer lower prices.
The ROH's new ticketing policy and other measures
appear to be having a positive effect on the wider availability
of tickets and broadening the audience base. The number of tickets
available to those not already affiliated to the ROH in some way
(either as Friends of Covent Garden, or members of the ROH Trust
etc) has risen from around 50 per cent for the first season to
57 per cent for the current season. Web-site bookings and the
House's vigorous attempts to maximise the new postal booking service
should help to improve this situation further.
The Arts Council of England is confident that the
ROH has a bright future in its new home. We are also convinced
that it is taking seriously its responsibilities as a publicly
subsidised organisation. The Arts Council would be happy to further
assist the Committee in any way the members see fit.
EDUCATION PROJECTS 1999/2000
Projects undertaken during the inaugural season of
the new House in 1999/2000 included:
Write an Opera Project
Designed to introduce primary school teachers and
their students to a structured process, enabling them to create
and perform original operas. Week-long courses and in-school support
from ROH artists and staff. Courses are held 3-4 times a year
in Britain and other European countries. Write an Opera
is supported by Smithkline Beecham and The Friends of Covent Garden.
Chance to Dance
A scholarship project for talented children aged
7-12 with no access to formal dance training. An intensive annual
programme of lecture demonstrations and auditions in London primary
schools, each September-November reaches 1,500. Weekly classes
for 150 children, Monday to Friday in four community venues: Lambeth,
Southwark, Hammersmith (Fulham and White City), plus a programme
of activities for their families and schools. Chance to Dance
is supported by John Lyon's Charity, Kobler Trust, The Mercer's
Company and The Woo Charitable Foundation, with additional support
from the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, and the London
Borough of Lambeth. The project is also supported by The Friends
of Covent Garden.
Introductory Lecture/Demonstration Programme
Hour-long 'introduction to the Royal Opera House'
lecture/demonstrations featuring artists from The Royal Opera,
in schools and community venues. Three programmes planned for
audiences aged from four to adult.
Weekly dance classes in The Royal Ballet's studios
for visually impaired adults. Includes creative work, skills building
and performance opportunities.
Free, half-hour, introductory talks in the auditorium,
an hour before selected performances. Demand for these events
proved to be so popular in the first season that the capacity
for the second season will be increased.
Opportunities to see behind the scenes, visiting
a variety of studio and workshop spaces. Three per day (Monday
Insight /study days and evenings
Aiming to provide deeper understanding and enhance
enjoyment of Royal Opera House productions. Including talks, panel
discussions, rehearsals or coaching sessions and lecture demonstrations.
The majority of productions throughout the year have related all
day events or evenings. Held in the Linbury Studio Theatre or
Clore Studio Upstairs for up to 350 people.
Free, weekly lunchtime concert series in the Linbury
Studio Theatre by members of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera
House and the Royal Opera Chorus.
The Royal Ballet at Work
Opportunities to watch The Royal Ballet's daily class.
Once a month in the Clore Studio Upstairs for 150+. Introduced
and supported by printed information sheets.
Exploring Opera/Exploring Ballet Weekends
A chance to explore a particular opera or ballet
production in more depth, including a chance to work with staff
and artists from the production.
Theme based days for adults and children from 3-16.
Music making, singing, dance, drama and design.
Royal Opera House Web-Site
Extensive information about the building, the Companies,
and the art forms of opera and ballet. Continuously updated with
insights into current productions, profiles of staff and artists
and newsletters for teachers and students. Sponsored in 1999/2000
by Cable and Wireless.
Publications and Schools' Study Packs
Ranging from material for the very young, to in depth
articles for adults. Includes free leaflets giving insights into
lesser known operas and ballets. The newsletter 'Voice and Vision'
reaches 6,000 teachers, three times per year.
In collaboration with Birkbeck College, University
of London. Invitation to Opera and The Opera House (two levels)
Certificate Courses. Weekly Thursday 'evening classes' in the
Chorus Rehearsal Room and Clore Studio.
Artist training courses
Regular training for Royal Opera House artists to
enhance their individual creativity and in preparation for work
within education projects. Includes opportunities for degree level
study for Royal Ballet dancers and for orchestra players to work
towards Master of Arts degrees.
Behind the Scenes Week for young people
Annual, week-long courses for young people aged 18-25
considering a career in the arts. Experience of a broad range
of Royal Opera House activities including backstage tours, opportunities
to watch rehearsals, marketing and technical activities and an
arts administration project. Supported by the Royal Victoria Hall
The Piazzolla Tango Nuevo Project
Performances in concert halls, colleges and schools.
Created and led by Soloists of the Royal Opera House Orchestra
and Royal Ballet dancers, featuring the music of Argentinian composer
A large-scale creative project led towards an initial
run of performances in the Linbury Studio Theatre. The piece will
then tour as part of a substantial programme of lecture demonstrations,
workshops and performances. Supported by Sir Peter Michael CBE
and the D'Oyly Carte Charitable Trust.
Part of the London 'String of Pearls Millennium Festival'.
Waterborne performances of a specially devised piece by Royal
Opera House singers, dancers and musicians. Collaboration with
artist Max Couper, the Couper Collection and composer Trevor Wishart.
Performances were undertaken on barges on the Thames, in July
Paul Hamlyn Week 2000
A week of opera and ballet performances with tickets
at greatly reduced prices for people attending the Royal Opera
House for the first time. Facilitated by education activities
and pre-performance talks. Mailing of Hamlyn Week priority lists
and target catchment areas began in mid-September 1999 and closed
in early December.
Organisations, such as the City Parochial Foundation,
Church Urban Fund, The Baring Foundation, J Paul Getty Charitable
Trust and the Bridge House Estates Trust Fund, were contacted.
Many of the people and groups who receive financial assistance
from these charities took up the invitation to apply to bring
a group to Hamlyn Week. From the Trade Union movement members
of the GMB, CWU, and Fire Brigade were all invited to apply. When
the Fire Brigade was last approached it picked up 230 tickets.
For the 2000 Week this was increased to 750 tickets (including
a branch from Aberdeenshire.)
The main union targeted for 2000, the Civil Service
member based PCS, applied for a staggering total of 5,200 tickets.
With applications from Aberystwyth, Glasgow, Cardiff, Norwich,
Chester, Sunderland and Plymouth as a few geographic examples.
By January 2000 the five performances in the WeekLa
Bohème, Coppélia and Ashton Revisited
were sold out.