Letter: ROH budgets

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The Independent Online
ROH budgets

Sir: The allegation that the board of the Royal Opera House never received financial information which enabled it to assess its trading position or take action on it is totally untrue (Andreas Whittam Smith, 9 December). It is also false that financial forecasts were "left on the shelf while planning proceeded willy-nilly without reference to them".

During my chairmanship (and that of my predecessor) the board received monthly financial statements which showed up-to-date projections of the profit and loss account, with movements indicated month by month and for the full year. Adverse changes against budget were accompanied by management recommendations for action to correct or reverse such trends. These included wage restraint, cuts in overheads and, during 1996, redundancies. Production schedules were examined and if necessary adjusted; box office results and cash flow were also reviewed. All these matters received the board's close attention.

Whatever our faults of omission or commission, the serious charge that we had no proper financial information to guide us is not only a false reflection on the board, but a slur on the able and hard-working staff who provided it.


London W11

The writer was chairman of the Royal Opera House, 1991-96