Arts Council England to conduct independent evaluation of proposal for Royal Opera House Manchester
Arts Council England is to conduct an independent evaluation of a proposal from the Royal Opera House (ROH) and Manchester City Council (MCC) to open a new opera, ballet and lyric theatre venue in the rebuilt Palace Theatre, Manchester.
The evaluation was agreed at a meeting yesterday (Thursday 30 October) at the Department for Culture Media and Sport to discuss the proposal. Secretary of State Andy Burnham, ROH Chief Executive Tony Hall and MCC Chief Executive Sir Howard Bernstein and Leader Sir Richard Leese all agreed with the Arts Council Chief Executive Alan Davey's suggestion that an independent evaluation was the best way forward.
The evaluation will examine, in detail, the potential of the plans to expand opera and dance provision, develop new audiences and provide more training and skills development to the sector. The evaluation will also look at the plans’ possible impact on other cultural organisations, including those producing and touring this type of work in the north of England and across the country.
Arts Council England has commissioned leading arts consultant Graham Marchant to conduct the evaluation. Graham is well known to the sector for his work as founding General Administrator of Opera North. As a consultant he has worked with the Southbank Centre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Northern Ballet, English Touring Opera, Music Theatre Wales and Rambert Dance Company, among others. Graham will start work immediately and is expected to report back to the Arts Council by the end of January 2009.
Arts Council Chief Executive Alan Davey said: "This is a bold idea and one of real national significance, which is why it is vital that we test it thoroughly.
"We must look at its potential impact on our arts ecology regionally and nationally, to ensure that it builds on the excellence of work already being produced and develops new audiences."
All parties agreed that the findings of the independent evaluation will be central to their future planning, helping to shape and determine the way forward for the project.
Secretary of State for Culture Andy Burnham said: "I welcome this plan. It has long been a personal priority for me to see national cultural organisations develop a presence outside London. So I’m really pleased to see the Royal Opera House’s plan moving forward. But we must be sure that what is planned is right for the wider cultural scene in the North West, too. So an independent review, led by the Arts Council, will be a positive next step."
Tony Hall, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House said: "We’re delighted that our proposal met with such a positive response. We want to work with the people in Manchester to create something that really benefits the region, something that really takes the brilliant things we do here to new and wider audiences away from the South East."
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council said: "We are delighted that agreement has been reached about developing our proposition further. Establishing a new production and performance base here at Royal Opera House Manchester with training in every aspect of production, from set building to singing, would bring significant economic benefit to the city by attracting more visitors and creating several hundred new jobs for local people."
Evaluation will begin immediately and the process will include consultation with arts organisations potentially affected by the proposal and other significant stakeholders.
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Notes to Editors:
Arts Council England works to get great art to everyone by championing, developing and investing in artistic experiences that enrich people’s lives.
As the national development agency for the arts, we support a range of artistic activities from theatre to music, literature to dance, photography to digital art, and carnival to crafts.
Great art inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves, and the world around us. In short, it makes life better.
Between 2008 and 2011, we will invest £1.3 billion of public money from government and a further £0.3 billion from the National Lottery to create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.
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