News came through last week that the Paul Hamlyn Foundation has given our old friends at the Royal Opera House a rather hefty donation of £10Million (GBP).
The money will be placed into an endowment to provide year on year funds for what the Opera House calls "education and access activities". A further portion of the boilerplate press release says;
"Over twenty years some 200,000 people who might otherwise never have even thought that opera or ballet was for them, have enjoyed a performance by The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet at minimal cost through the generous support of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation."
What that means is the money from the foundation will be and has been used to subsidise ticket prices so the great unwashed can get through the door and see performances in the theatre they already own.
ROH receives over £20Million in public subsidy from Arts Council England every year. Without that money we imagine they would be in serious trouble. Not to mention the £78Million of lottery funding that went into their massive reconstruction campaign a few years back.
Does anybody else think that it's just a little condescending for rich benefactors to subsidise ticket prices in theatre's that are already owned by the public? Shouldn't those theatre's be open and accessible to all by default?
It's a bit like buying a brand new house and then having some rich bloke subsidising the locks on the doors and coming across all magnanimous about it!