RSC chief attacks `antics' at Opera House

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Adrian Noble, the artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, signalled a public rift in the arts establishment yesterday, when he claimed that recent "antics" at the Royal Opera House had harmed the nation's cultural institutions for years to come.

Referring to the row over funding of the ROH, including the use of lottery cash for its rebuilding work, Mr Noble (right) said such a public furore had soured the climate in which the issue of money and the arts was discussed.

He said: "I think the antics of the Royal Opera House, to be honest, have set back the cause of arts and the lottery in this country for years. It's meant that most otherbona fide projects are being scrutinised in a really sort of unnecessary way, I think."

Interviewed on GMTV, he added: "It means the man in the Clapham omnibus is hostile now towards the arts, and especially towards lottery money going towards the building of the arts ... it seems to me that they've dug their own grave."

He agreed the ROH had been "complacent" and suggested it should have been going on the road or on tour during its period of closure, to provide opera for the people.

Last Wednesday the chairman of the ROH, Lord Chadlington, admitted to MPs that the organisation had nearly gone bankrupt days before and that day-by-day trading "remains very precarious".

Lord Chadlington was also questioned over the resignationof chief executive Genista McIntosh in May and her replacement, without the job being advertised.

Michael Streeter