Sadler's Wells to sue Royal Opera for pounds 2m

SADLER'S WELLS plans to sue the beleaguered Royal Opera House for an estimated pounds 2m following the ROH's cancellation of its entire programme for next year.

The Sadler's Wells Theatre, which has just been rebuilt at a cost of more than pounds 40m - half of it Lottery money - had expected to play host to 110 Opera House performances between April and September next year.

Now the theatre must remain empty or try to book in other shows on greatly reduced terms. "I'll need staff I haven't got to fill the gap and extra money to buy in other companies at short notice," said its director, Ian Albery, yesterday. "They'll know I'm desperate. I'll have no bargaining power."

The north London theatre is the chief victim of the Opera House's aborted programme. Founded by Lilian Bayliss and a world-renowned centre for dance, Sadler's Wells is close to the end of a rebuilding programme that has seen initial costs of pounds 39m rise to pounds 42m (mainly due to problems with underground water - hence the site's original name). The interest payments on the loan taken out to meet this overrun were already threatening its budget for next year. The new ROH cancellations may prove the last straw.

"A brand new theatre, built at great public expense, is to be dark for months to enable Covent Garden to sort out its industrial relations problems," said Mr Albery. "We're purely a pawn in that battle. Now we're talking about pounds 1m to sort our program- ming problems." Without compensation, he believes the theatre will go bust.

Sadler's Wells receives a much smaller subsidy than the ROH or the English National Opera and the National Theatre but has had a policy of maintaining lower ticket prices.

"We're not about big names and stars; we're a people's theatre." said Mr Albery. Its future may now lie in the hands of the Arts Council and London Arts Board as well as the minister Chris Smith: Sadler's Wells sits right in the middle of his Islington constituency.

"Obviously, no one would want to see Sadler's Wells without a programme for next year, and I am sure that the appropriate bodies will do their utmost to ensure that that doesn't happen," he said yesterday. "As Secretary of State for Culture, I have to treat every theatre in exactly the same way."

Culture section, page 1

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: PA

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A PA is required to join a leading provider of...

Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - London - £43,000

£35000 - £43000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior IT Support Analyst...

Recruitment Genius: Technical SEO Specialist

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness