D'Oyly Carte cancels tour in cash crisis

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The Independent Culture
The Gilbert and Sullivan company, D'Oyly Carte, has had to cancel its autumn national tour because of a lack of funds.

Its contract with Birmingham City Council, which provided funding and rehearsal space, expired at the end of 1995. Negotiations have been taking place with a Newcastle businessman Carl Watkins, which would have included use of the Tyneside theatre as well as financial support, but a deal has not been secured in time to enable the tour to go ahead.

Philip Lee, spokesman for the company, said: "Lord Gowrie, the Arts Council chairman, is very keen to see the company survive and hopefully the council will increase our grant."

The increase would have to be a significant one. At present D'Oyly Carte receives only 5 per cent of it's funding from the Arts Council, with 80 per cent coming from the box office.

The recent financial problems are not new to D'Oyly Carte; the company, founded in the 1870s, had to close in 1982, although the company says that the closure had more to do with the public perception of D'Oyly Carte at that time than money troubles.

"Historically, we had always given traditional productions of Gilbert and Sullivan. But by the beginning of the Eighties the public expectations of theatre had dramatically changed and interest in our type of productions had waned."

The company re-emerged in 1988 with a new dynamic that brought back it's audiences, by combining the purist approach with a more experimental edge.