Letter: Opera dilemma

Sir: Your leader of 13 October ("Don't be afraid to take on the arts") suggests that Sadler's Wells should focus on a long-term programme of international visits and support by populism and sponsorship. This we are, triumphantly, doing. Our international programming through to 2001 is largely in place.

We are carrying well over pounds 1m of advance bookings at populist prices and our sponsorship is running at over pounds 500,000 - double our grant subsidy of pounds 220,000 per annum.

Now the Royal Opera House and the Arts Council have arranged appropriate compensation for Sadler's Wells for the lost 21 weeks of Royal Opera programming in 1999, our artistic programming director, Nigel Hinds, will rapidly fill the gaping hole with first-class visiting companies.

All we ask for is a level playing field where our grant money per seat sold for world-class international and British companies is on a par with other major lyric theatres or venues, such as the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

IAN ALBERY

Chief Executive

Sadler's Wells, London

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