Arts Minister acts on Royal Opera crisis meetin

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The Government has called a crisis meeting on the future of the Royal Opera House after its chief executive, Genista McIntosh, resigned on Tuesday after four months in the job, writes Matthew Brace.

Chris Smith, Secretary of State for National Heritage, is seeking assurances that the pounds 214m redevelopment of the ROH in site Covent Garden, London, is making best use of government and Lottery money. His department has no direct control over the ROH but, as a provider of funds through the Arts Council, has a strong say. A spokeswoman said Mr Smith had "asked arts minister Mark Fisher to seek an ... urgent update on the status of the ... redevelopment. Mr Fisher has called for an urgent meeting with Lord Gowrie." Lord Gowrie, chairman of the Arts Council, has said the plans for the Royal Opera and Royal Ballet during the redevelopment, drawn up by Ms McIntosh's predecessor, Sir Jeremy Isaacs, were "a shambles".

Both companies risk homelessness after plans for a temporary "bubble" structure next to Tower Bridge fell through and the Royal Albert Hall declined to host a ballet season. Ms McIntosh left because of "ill-health and stress", the ROH said. A week before she told a newspaper she was relishing her new job. Yesterday she said the decision to leave "was mine alone" and there had been no disagreements with the ROH chairman, Lord Chadlington, from whom she had received "enormous support and encouragement".

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