Royal Opera House shelves move north

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The Independent Culture

The proposed £100m outpost of the Royal Opera House (ROH) in Manchester is among a swathe of arts projects that have been shelved because of the arts-funding cuts announced earlier this week.

The Arts Council England's decision to reduce the funding of organisations nationwide by an initial 6.9 per cent from April 2011 has forced the ROH to admit for the first time that its plans for ROH North are "on hold".

An ROH spokesperson said: "In an ideal world, we would take this forward but the project is not likely to move anywhere because of the funding situation."

The ROH's Manchester plans were initially drawn up by its chief executive, Tony Hall, working with Manchester City Council. The plans involved the complete renovation of the 117-year-old Palace Theatre in Manchester's city centre so it could become a venue for staging opera and ballet productions specifically developed for the city.

A Manchester City Council spokesperson said: "Manchester City Council and Royal Opera House remain committed to establishing a production base for the Royal Opera House in Manchester at the appropriate time."

The news comes as hundreds of local theatres, galleries and small publishers face the prospect of redundancies and wage freezes following the Arts Council England's announcement on Tuesday. A spokesperson for the Leeds-based company Opera North said its £750,000 Arts Council budget cut could reduce the length of its national tours and its original productions. Newcastle's New Vic Theatre – which entertains 175,000 people and hosts 10 major play productions a year – faces a £69,000 cut and may have to make job cuts.

Other regional arts organisations were, however, more confident of absorbing shortfalls. A spokesperson for Gateshead's BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art said it planned to deal with the impact of the cuts "through shrewd business management and efficient operations".