Jump to content

The Royal Opera House's Marginal Financial Position?


Recommended Posts

I found it slightly odd when the spokesperson at the end of the article cited 'not touring' as a source of income loss. Previously the ROH position has always been that touring lost money and this is why it could not afford to tour the UK as other ballet/opera companies do. They'll have to make their minds up!! Joan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The opera seems to bring in a lot of big names such as Angela Gheorgiu, I can't imagine they're particularly cheap and I think they've restaged a couple of things recently but some of the new work at the RB has been fairly expensive so I don't know how exactly the money would be split.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was told, not so long ago, that it is the RB and their dancers who bring in the money, not the Opera singers. I often wonder how much those top/Guest Opera singers earn (or charge) compared to the RB Principals. New work at RB is usually sponsored privately (those sponsors are always listed on the Cast sheet). I am under the impression new work does not take up that much of Government Funding.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can believe the RB bring in more because they do things like the Nutcracker which is a Christmas tradition for a lot of people and I can't think of an opera equivalent, also something like Swan Lake is always popular. I think opera has a much lower profile overall and people are a bit more wary of it if they're newcomers. I have no idea how much the top singers charge for a performance or a run of them but I think it's likely to be a fair bit, there was a discussion on here that said the baseline for an RB pricipal is 60 grand a year, I don't know if that's accurate or not though. I'd forgotten about private sponsors and of course the cost of Alice was offset by sharing the production with the NBoC.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I found it slightly odd when the spokesperson at the end of the article cited 'not touring' as a source of income loss. Previously the ROH position has always been that touring lost money and this is why it could not afford to tour the UK as other ballet/opera companies do. They'll have to make their minds up!! Joan

RB foreign tours tend to make money. Touring the UK doesn't. They are very different things.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It might have changed, but a few years ago, top singers for opera were paid about £15.000 per performance. But I'm not sure it's a good point of comparison, the ballet staff is much bigger than the opera. And except for the occasional flop, opera seems to sell out much more consistently than ballet (last season being a bit of an exception in this respect to be fair), and a sold out opera performance brings in about twice as much money as a ballet one.

 

According to the RB history by Zoe Anderson, the RB at some point was effectively subsidising the opera company at Covent Garden, but I don't think it is still true (from much vaguer memories I can't substantiate).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

RB foreign tours tend to make money. Touring the UK doesn't. They are very different things.

 

I don't understand this. The National Ballet of Canada had to do major fundraising to be able to tour to London this spring. Without it the trip would have left them seriously out of pocket, or so they said, far from making money for them. This was in the Toronto Star at the time: "Touring a big ballet company is intimidatingly expensive and foreign presenters don’t have the deep pockets they once enjoyed. According to National Ballet executive director Kevin Garland, the total cost for the London trip exceeds $1 million.

Much as he wants to present the company, Alistair Spalding, Sadler’s Wells CEO, cannot cover it all. Instead of a guaranteed fee, the National Ballet has signed on to a revenue-sharing arrangement, which means the company had to raise about $400,000 to make the trip possible."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't understand this. The National Ballet of Canada had to do major fundraising to be able to tour to London this spring. Without it the trip would have left them seriously out of pocket, or so they said, far from making money for them. This was in the Toronto Star at the time: "Touring a big ballet company is intimidatingly expensive and foreign presenters don’t have the deep pockets they once enjoyed. According to National Ballet executive director Kevin Garland, the total cost for the London trip exceeds $1 million.

 

Much as he wants to present the company, Alistair Spalding, Sadler’s Wells CEO, cannot cover it all. Instead of a guaranteed fee, the National Ballet has signed on to a revenue-sharing arrangement, which means the company had to raise about $400,000 to make the trip possible."

 

I was making a claim about the difference between a foreign tour and a UK tour for the RB. In that context, let's look at this year's forthcoming tour to Tokyo.

 

The RB are doing 10 shows (including a gala). All, I believe are sold out and demand was so high an extra performance has been added to the original schedule. They are performing in a venue with more seats than ROH and a top price ticket for each show of Y22,000 (just under £150). That is more expensive than a top price ticket in London.

 

The RB take a group of supporters with them, each of whom pays £5,000 (exclusive of travel and tickets) for the privilege.

 

And then, and this is probably the biggie, there's the DVD sales that will inevitably follow.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The RB take a group of supporters with them, each of whom pays £5,000 (exclusive of travel and tickets) for the privilege.

 

And then, and this is probably the biggie, there's the DVD sales that will inevitably follow.

 

The NBOC did likewise with the accompanying supporters. That's how they raised part of the $400,000. But would the RB have to use that fundraising tool if touring really did make money? (And the RB is a bigger company than the NBOC, and Tokyo a more expensive destination even than London).

And do DVD sales really make pots of money?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Katherine, I assume that NBoC has its own orchestra but (sensibly) decided to use the services of the RBSymphonia to cut down on costs (flights and the cost of bringing instruments) if nothing else.

NBOC does have its own orchestra but I believe its arrangements with the union are complicated, so I believe it is required to travel with (most of? all of? some of?) its orchestra, at least in Canada and perhaps in North America . I know the orchestra is accompanying them to Saratoga Springs in July because they have completely booked up a hotel I was wanting to put some clients in! Even though, presumably  (?) they could have used the nearby Albany Symphony (from Albany, NY 30 mins. from Saratoga) who, I'm sure, could manage Giselle and Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

I don't know  if they had to make special negotiations with the NBOC orchestra so as to be able to use the RBSymphonia when they were in London.

All I know is..... touring a ballet company is WAY more complicated than it may look to us on the outside!

All the same, I would love some transparency from ballet companies on what the actual costs are for touring, because I see other companies touring  and wonder how they don't lose money, and some even claim they MAKE money from touring, whereas the NBOC says it loses money everytime they step outside of Toronto (and I don't think they're lying). The Canada Council (our equivalent of the Arts Council) used to subsidize touring both within Canada and abroad but doesn't anymore.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I often wonder how much those top/Guest Opera singers earn (or charge) compared to the RB Principals.

 

Well, the RB principals are all on salaries, of course, which makes it difficult to compare.  I thought I read years ago that dancers got something extra per performance for "big" roles, but am not sure whether that is the case at present.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Regarding overseas touring costs:

 

1.  I see from a piece in today's Sunday Times Culture magazine ( Richard Brooks, Biteback, p14) that Boston Ballet expects to lose some $1.6 million on the forthcoming visit to UK.  Despite this - and somebody will presumably have to cover that sum at some point - their Director feels "it is worthwhile to put down a marker and tell London what Boston Ballet can do."  (A little earlier, Brooks states that he had been told that the Company has less than 1% public funding, with more than 80% coming from private individuals.)

 

2.  The programme for the recent visit of the small Bern Ballett company to London acknowledged financial contributions made by both Pro Helvetia (the Swiss Arts Council) and a private individual towards making the visit possible.  (Despite this assistance, the Company was unable to have Camerata Bern, playing for the production at home, come to London on cost grounds and had to use a recorded score.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The NBOC did likewise with the accompanying supporters. That's how they raised part of the $400,000. But would the RB have to use that fundraising tool if touring really did make money? (And the RB is a bigger company than the NBOC, and Tokyo a more expensive destination even than London).And do DVD sales really make pots of money?

A sensible company uses every fundraising tool it can.

 

And DVD sales definitely make pots of money if you own the DVD company (as ROH does with Opus Arte).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's a huge loss for Boston Ballet to absorb! I've booked for both programmes and I'm looking forward to them, but I personally feel that coming to the Coliseum with two mixed programmes is a mistake, particularly in a crowded year for visiting companies. I have to admire the company's strenous marketing efforts though. As well as direct mailings and leaflets being handed out outside the Coliseum they have organised for someone to put some of their very attractive leaflets in my local delicatessen/cafe in South London. I suspect that if you are the Bolshoi, the Mariinsky, the RB or the POB you make money by touring overseas but if you are anyone else you probably won't. I believe that even NYCB went to Sadler's Wells last time they visited.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  (A little earlier, Brooks states that he had been told that the Company has less than 1% public funding, with more than 80% coming from private individuals.)

 

 

 

This kind of ratio is fairly standard for an American (e.g., US) arts organisation.  The level of Federal support (which then dishes out the monies to the various States' arts panels) is VERY low per capita compared to the British/European models.  (I can speak with some authority on this as I sat as a member of, first, the Pennsylvania State Council for the Arts and, later, the (Federal) National Endowment under Jane Alexander's Chairmanship.)  That said, it is not as bereft as some of the above postings might have you fear.  The BIG difference lies in the tax break given to the individual tax payer who wishes to support the arts.  [i ran a LORT (League of Regional Theaters) theatre in the US in the early 80's.  At that time (thank you, Mr. Regan) donors got 50 cents on the dollar.  I believe now it is more akin to 35 cents on the dollar. ] This gives an incentive for individual giving.  I feel in a way the British Arts Council (ACE) model cripples the arts organisations that are healthy (e.g., actively serving their public). [Let us also not forget that ACE itself is not some age-old institution having only been established in the 60's, but a mere decade and a half behind the official establishment of the 'Royal Ballet'.  The seeds of the NEA in the US were set out some 30 years earlier in the US by Roosevelt's administration - at the same time as the 'WPA' programmes (Work Projects for Artists) were created during the depression.]   Individual giving in the US FAR outstrips the ratio of public monies distributed in the UK while the British/European format also succeeds in robbing the individual of a practical incentive to actively support their own focused arts choice.  There have over the years, of course, been many cries for a similar alteration to the system here (e.g., the practical application of the combination of both).  It has yet to happen and I suspect never will as the Treasury will always feel that THEIR piggy bank will be further pilfered for this, a non-mandated cause.  Here the choice is ultimately theirs, not ours .... whilst understanding that everything in THIS LIFE is relative. Perception continues to be ALL and the arts lobby remains - on the whole - RELATIVELY weak in the UK ... no matter what its employment/practical impact percentage may imply.  .  

Edited by Meunier
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A sensible company uses every fundraising tool it can.

 

 

Of course they do, but my point was, would the RB make money from touring if they didn't also use this fundraising tool., since the question is: do ballet companies make money or lose money from touring? Judging by the report about Boston Ballet, and the NBOC's experience, apparently not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...