Theatre faces a shortfall of pounds 3m

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The Independent Online
THE ROYAL Court Theatre will have to go into liquidation if it does not raise pounds 3m by next May, its director, Stephen Daldry, warned yesterday.

The plight of one of Britain's most famous theatres illustrates the increasing difficulties that recipients of lottery money are having in raising the required private cash to match their awards.

If the centre for new writing and the home of radical theatre since John Osborne's 1956 Look Back In Anger fails to re-open, it will be a disaster for the arts and a severe embarrassment for the National Lottery.

Two members of the board, chaired by Sir John Mortimer,have resigned because of anxiety over the money-raising process for the pounds 26m redevelopment. They are playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker and agent Harriet Cruikshank.

The Royal Court - which has been staging a run of successes in the West End during the closure of its building - had to raise pounds 7m of private money but has managed just pounds 4m. Its redeveloped building in Sloane Square, London, was due to open this month but will now open in a year - but only if it can raise the necessary cash.

Mr Daldry questioned the wisdom of the Government insisting that lottery recipients raise 25 per cent of the cost of their projects from private sources. It had led to masses of arts companies chasing the same few philanthropists.

Elisabeth Murdoch, head of BSkyB and daughter of Rupert Murdoch, now heads the fund-raising operation for The Royal Court.