It's very easy to say it's elitist, as if to appreciate ballet or opera you have to be born to it. It draws audiences from a wide range of backgrounds, and was originally built as a "people's theatre". We're in a period when we have to do something about the capital needs of the arts, which have been neglected by state funding for the last two decades: that is why our applications to the lottery have been successful.
To engage in a verbal argument with the tabloid press does not really serve our purposes, and I don't think their arguments should be taken seriously. The lottery was set up with a specific intention by a government that was democratically elected, and so any protests must be made directly through parliamentary channels.
Val Bourne, artistic director of Dance Umbrella
I'm most upset: anyone who has ever seen a lottery application will know that you only get the money if you have a substantial programme of education and outreach. Sadler's Wells is not like the Royal Opera: we've always been intent on making it accessible across the board, and it is not exclusively a dance theatre. We've always had music theatre and musicals here too.
With all these lottery applications you have to prove you are making a concerted effort to bring in those who don't normally go to the theatre. It might seem elitist, but we've been trying for as long as I can remember to improve this theatre, and this is the first set of plans that will make any huge difference. I find it very unfair what some of the papers are saying; we desperately need a good stage in London for dance and musical theatre. We're dedicated to the education outreach part of it, too.
Everybody is going to have more free time in the future, and if there is full employment in 10 years or so then we'll have more time to enjoy sport and the arts - this is going to happen whether we like it or not. It looks as if all the money is going to the arts, but it isn't: it's not the arts' fault that they were better prepared to receive it than the charities.
Katharine Dore, executive director of Adventures in Motion Pictures
"This is the third season in three years that we have produced ourselves at the Wells, and we're delighted that it has received a lottery grant. It was make or break, really, and at last London will have a theatre to entice major international companies to Britain. Sadler's Wells has had a long tradition of producing high-quality dance, and a firm commitment to accessibility.
However, while at present small companies like ours sell out at Sadler's Wells, there is the danger that once the expansion has taken place we will be replaced by more tutus and foreign work. The lottery people have to address the issue of new British talent on the middle scale in London; otherwise I feel it might become a quasi-opera house. There must be room in the programme for smaller-scale homegrown work, for that is surely what the lottery grant is all about. People may say we should go to the South Bank, but the South Bank is an arts centre, not a theatre, and we couldn't produce our work there.
This argument has been hijacked by the larger companies, but it must remain financially viable for companies such as ours to produce our work at Sadler's Wells. We're delighted, but this money should not be allowed to turn this theatre into an elitist organisation.
Harold King, artistic director of London City Ballet
Sadler's Wells needs the funds to improve conditions in the theatre, which, as one of the oldest dance theatres in the country, has become very run down. The grant will enable local audiences to receive more value for money. Sadler's Wells provides a varied programme of not just ballet but drama, opera, contemporary dance, African and flamenco. It is of historical importance, and as such acts as a national centre for dance and is deserving of any funding to help it provide more for the community.Reuse content