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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most