Letter: Funding the future of Scottish Ballet

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The Independent Online
Sir: I cannot allow John Percival's account of the Scottish Arts Council's role in the debate over the future of Scottish Ballet ("He who pays the piper", 26 July) to stand unchallenged. We are, believe it or not, a relatively civilised organisation, and have spent our time trying to find ways of saving Scottish Ballet, not destroying it. More to the point, the article suggests that the whole discussion has taken place in an atmosphere of hostility and resentment, which is simply untrue.

It is absurd to claim that Scottish Ballet was somehow sidelined during our lengthy attempts to find a solution to the perennial financial problems of all four Scottish national companies. For the best part of a year, Scottish Ballet was intimately involved in the most detailed appraisal of an orchestra merger as well as administrative savings. The problems were endlessly addressed and discussed. It was recognised early on that the company might face additional costs through exchanging a part-time orchestra for a more permanent band; but it was agreed - and minuted - that any such costs would be made up from the overall savings we aimed to achieve. What, after all, would have been the point of coming up with a solution that rendered one company worse off than it had been before?

It was bitterly frustrating for the rest of us when Scottish Ballet, having agreed in principle to the scheme, backed out at the last minute, thus sacrificing the extra pounds 2.4m which the Scottish Office had promised the companies in the event of agreement. The pity of it is that at the orchestra level we knew it could work - and work well - for Scottish Ballet. I trust that the Board, having rejected our solution, can come up with a viable alternative. It is their proposals we will be studying at our next Council meeting. We shall do so with the ultimate objective of ensuring that Scottish audiences continue to be provided with ballet of the highest standard.

MAGNUS LINKLATER

Chairman, The Scottish Arts Council

Edinburgh

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