Well, as anyone who has dealt with the Arts Council will expect, the reasons have nothing to do with art or excellence. The Arts Council is miffed that BOC hasnâ€™t established a â€œthird income streamâ€. In other words, it doesnâ€™t get much private funding, so relies too heavily on public subsidy.
Thatâ€™s firstly untrue (its recent Traviata was backed by Â£50,000 from the Moores Foundation); secondly based on too narrow a definition of private support (many local companies support it â€œin kindâ€ by donating premises or goods â€“ such as those coffins in Giovanni); and thirdly misses the point. Of course swanky sponsors arenâ€™t going to be attracted to opera presented on gritty industrial estates: where would they ply their clients with champers and canapÃ©s? But does this mean that opera must always be staged in venues where the middle-classes feel comfortable? Is that the view of James Purnell, the new Culture Secretary?
The underlying truth seems to be that Vick is a maverick, and the company he created and to which he lovingly returns (between directing engagements with every great opera company in the world) is created in his image – ie, structurally unconventional. Far too much so, clearly, for the pen-pushers at the Arts Council, who complain about BOCâ€™s â€œhigh-risk strategyâ€ as if risk is a bad thing in the arts.