London's Royal Opera to Become a Privately Run Institution

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The crises-torn Royal Opera House in London is to be privatized and forced to "pay its own way," thus bringing to an end a half-century of public subsidy, according to a news story in the Mar. 15 London Times.

A draft of a report written by Sir Richard Eyre, former director of the Royal National Theatre, recommends the selling-off of Covent Garden -- home to the Royal Opera and Royal Ballet -- after the completion in 1999 of an extensive building renovation. (Royal Opera and Royal Ballet are currently performing at various venues throughout the city including West End theatres).

Eyre is said to have rejected an alternative proposal to move the English National Opera into Covent Garden (where it would have been forced to coexist none too peacefully with Royal Opera and Royal Ballet) to save costs.

A final version of the report, commissioned by culture secretary Chris Smith - who favors reducing or eliminating public subsidy and is gung-ho about tax incentives for business sponsors of the arts -- is to be completed soon, according to the Times.

--By Rebecca Paller

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