1996: what does it hold in store?

Electronic cash, the return of Slade - and strikes, war against the motor car, and a scandal over Arts Council grants. Our specialists predict
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The Independent Online

EXPECT a year of much change and some turmoil. The publicity over the National Lottery millions that have flowed to arts institutions in 1995 has ignored a salient fact: millions now must be raised from private businesses to supplement that money or the grands projets will not see the light of day. I foresee huge difficulties in raising those funds.

Also on the money front, Lord Gowrie and the Arts Council will have to wield the axe after a cut in government grant. One symphony orchestra, possibly the Royal Philharmonic, could be among the first to suffer. But Lord Gowrie and the National Heritage Secretary, Virginia Bottomley, will redefine how lottery money is spent, and we will see it being used to commission new plays, operas and ballets.

A new artistic director will be announced to succeed Richard Eyre at the National Theatre. I believe the prize will go to the youthful but proven Sam Mendes. A successor will be named, too, for Jeremy Isaacs at the Royal Opera House. Nicholas Payne, in charge of opera there, is the man most likely to.

Adrian Noble's brave and egalitarian decision to move the Royal Shakespeare Company out of London for half the year will suffer setbacks from lack of money and lack of theatres wanting to take the company. He may be forced into a rethink.

A West End theatre will at last be used to stage the best from outside London, and Londoners may be able to see the harrowing triumph of the Edinburgh Festival, Sue Glover's Bondagers.

The Government will belatedly tackle the dubious practice of the Arts Council and forbid it to award either grants or lottery money to people who sit on the council and its advisory panels. When the millions of pounds involved are revealed it will create a major scandal in the press.

Olivier Awards will go to Fiona Shaw for her stunning portrayal of Richard II in Deborah Warner's immaculate production, and Claire Skinner for her role in The Glass Menagerie.

At the Brit pop awards, Pulp, Portishead and The Cranberries will show that Brit pop is more than a two-band wonder. Nostalgia will reach the mid-Seventies and rediscover Slade and Sparks. You have been warned.