Here is the news - of 1994: The arts

FRENCH and Saunders to split up amid tears and acrimony; Ken and Em likewise. BBC staff to throw a party for John Birt. A popular, figurative painter to win the Turner Prize . . . . OK, things in reality may be little more prosaic, though there are strong rumours of a sex scandal and a television chief. It may go unreported by News At Ten, however: that programme may not survive the year. Don't be fooled by the tactical retreat of ITV network chiefs: they are preparing a new salvo.

Junior National Heritage minister Iain Sproat - who claimed a footnote in cultural history by suggesting that libraries charge for lending books and that the Serpentine Gallery be turned into riding stables - will be reshuffled. But the Serpentine Gallery, along with the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith, could be an early victim of the growing cash problems in the arts. The Royal Opera House will announce a drastic revision of its pounds 150m redevelopment scheme.

But the English Shakespeare Company, though officially deceased, will be resurrected as a touring educational service. And the cries of doom in the West End will be silenced as theatre managements open on Sundays and charge half price for youngsters.

This newspaper's campaign for cheaper CDs will receive a jolt, I fear. The Monopolies Commission is likely to side with the record companies. At least compact discs will be very much around at the end of the year. Mini discs might be there to keep them company, but expect the low-selling digital compact cassette to bid a clean, pure, digital, remastered farewell.

Alan Cumming and Fiona Shaw will win Olivier awards for their performances in Cabaret and Machinal respectively. Britain's new national museum of modern art will be in the old Bankside power station. Salman Rushdie will come out of hiding.

Finally, if you think you're cultured, name this year's European city of culture. Come to that, name last year's]

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