More ballet death threats

When Jennifer Homans wrote that ballet is dead in her book, Apollo’s Angels, it could be shrugged off – in a way. Homans seemed to be still lamenting for the death of George Balanchine.

But now Alistair Spalding, the chief executive of Sadlers Wells Theatre in London has taken aim at the lack of variety in the repertoire of large English ballet companies which themselves have just been told of very substantial cuts to their budgets.

“I’m not saying they don’t get broad audiences, but it is often one dimensional”, he told The Independent newspaper. With the bulk of the companies’ repertoire still coming from the 19th century, “if there isn’t some kind of attention paid to that it is going to end up winding down”.

Spalding told The Independent that it was difficult for the three biggest ballet companies – the Royal Ballet, English National Ballet and the Birmingham Royal Ballet – to pioneer the unexpected “because new things are difficult to sell; the audience aren’t expecting it”. He added: “I think Sadler’s Wells has tried to democratise the art form and its success is reflected in the diversity of people that come.”

In that context it’s interesting to note that Spalding sits on Arts Council England’s national council, which oversaw last week’s major funding decisions. Sadler’s Wells’ funding from the Arts Council is to stay the same, at about £2.5 million subsidy a year.

Thanks to Ismene Brown of The Arts Desk UK, here are some of the losers and winners following changes to Arts Council England (ACE) funding from 2012.

15 per cent cut by 2015 dealt out to Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet, Royal Opera House, which includes Royal Ballet.
Rambert stays the same, at about £2.3 million a year, as it moves into a new South Bank base this year.
Dance Umbrella takes a massive 36 per cent real cut over 3 years.
The Contemporary Dance Trust – The Place, Richard Alston, teaching courses – takes a 20 per cent cut to £1.8 million.
Independent commissioning companies:
* Balletboyz up 25 per cent in real terms to £230,000 by 2015
* Candoco roughly standstill at £415,000 by 2015
Choreographers – gainers
* Wayne McGregor up 29 per cent to £537,000 by 2015
* Hofesh Shechter up 73 per cent to £400,000
* Akram Khan real-terms standstill
* Michael Clark virtual standstill £208,000
Reduced circumstances
* Siobhan Davies slight reduction £607,000
* DV8 down 11 per cent to £432,000

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