As the rest of the arts in the UK struggle to come to grips with the massive cuts to Grants For The Arts (GFA) made by Arts Council England (ACE) the Royal Opera House (ROH) in London has decided to splash out on its very own DVD distribution company.
ROH has bought Opus Arte UK Ltd for £5.7million (GBP) from a Dutch holding company so they can begin distributing their own works to the world on DVD and, so the press release says, HD DVD and probably Blu Ray.
ROH currently receives over £20million per year in public subsidy but they were keen to point out that none of that money was used to acquire this particular commercial interest. Apparently ROH has over £10million just sitting about in Swiss bank accounts from cash gifts and endowments so, like kids in a department store, they went out and bought an expensive toy to play with.
In case you don't know, Opus Arte sell DVD's of Opera, Ballet and Classical Music to people who apparently have more money than sense. 'Coppélia', filmed at Covent Garden currently costs £22.99 about £8 more than the entire trilogy of Lord of the Rings from Play.com which has production values worth paying for, but I digress.
ROH is buying the DVD company so they can commercialise their own productions and, apparently, make some money. They will of course have to make about £8million in profit (the purchase price plus £2million in loans) before they see any cash flowing into ROH productions.
Many will question just why an arts organisation with so much money to burn is in receipt of massive public subsidy and just why ACE has cut GFA by £29million and not the subsidy to the obviously cash rich ROH. (we would also like to know when the arts became infested with three letter acronyms? Ed!)
We have asked ACE for a comment so more news to follow.