Sour note

Sour note – terrific and concise defence of Birmingham Opera Company in the Times by Richard Morrison. Hard to pick a small bit so here’s three paragraphs:

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 hasn’t established a “third income stream”. In other words, it doesn’t get much private funding, so relies too heavily on public subsidy.

That’s firstly untrue (its recent Traviata was backed by £50,000 from the Moores Foundation); secondly based on too narrow a definition of private support (many local companies support it “in kind” by donating premises or goods – such as those coffins in Giovanni); and thirdly misses the point. Of course swanky sponsors aren’t going to be attracted to opera presented on gritty industrial estates: where would they ply their clients with champers and canapés? 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 BOC’s “high-risk strategy” as if risk is a bad thing in the arts.

via D’log

One Comment

  1. chai wallah

    your second quoted paragraph is dynamite (can’t be bothered to think of any less hyperbolic words when i’ve just got up). and it’s always nice to read something written by someone who’s heard me sing, albeit with many, many others!

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