Sadler's Wells trades art for money

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DANCE LOVERS expecting a night at the ballet will be disappointed if they turn up at Sadler's Wells next February. They will find the main auditorium of London's premier dance theatre being used for a rather more prosaic purpose.

Sadler's Wells, which reopened last October in a new pounds 48m building funded mainly by the National Lottery, is to hold trade fairs and conferences in the auditorium for four weeks because it has run out of money to stage artistic performances and needs to generate income.

Ian Albery, the company's chief executive, blamed low funding by the Arts Council. "We haven't got enough money to put on artistic work throughout the year," he said. "Our funding is so low, I have no alternative ... We are doing our very best to maintain the high standards of excellence which we have established. Unfortunately ... this is the best way to do so."

Christopher Nourse, executive director of the Rambert Dance Company, which has two seasons booked at Sadler's Wells, said: "I am extremely sad that they are in this position of having to let the theatre go dark for a month. I don't think that anyone involved in the arts can be happy that a theatre that is to all intents and purposes a dance house for London is unable to function fully for 12 months of the year."

Sadler's Wells receives just pounds 200,000 a year from the Arts Council, compared with the pounds 1m grant given to the Rambert. Dennis Vaughan, the Australian conductor, said the theatre's predicament demonstrated the Government's lamentable lack of support for the arts.

Bolshoi squabble, page 5