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Royal Shakespeare Company

Volume 167: debated on Wednesday 14 February 1990

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To ask the Minister for the Arts if he will make a statement on the latest position concerning the work of the Royal Shakespeare Company and its funding, taking into account the recent announcement of an increase in funding.

It is for the Arts Council to determine the level of its grant to individual companies in the light of their artistic importance and a range of other factors.In the case of the Royal Shakespeare Company, its national and international importance is not in doubt. The Arts Council has awarded the RSC an 11 per cent. increase in its grant for next year, taking it to over £6 million. This is a very substantial increase, well above the rate of inflation, and should help the company balance its books.In 1984, the Government wrote off the RSC's deficit and increased its baseline grant in order to put the company on a firm footing from which to plan its future programmes. This was in response to two of the three recommendations of the Priestley report. The recommendation to index-link the RSC's grant was not accepted.I understand that the company is to cancel the winter season planned at the Barbican for 1991. This is a management decision by the RSC, and it is entirely for it to make. It will continue production as normal in its other venues, and will reopen at the Barbican in spring 1991. It will continue to tour widely. I am sure that it will maintain its excellent attendance levels.The company has generated substantial income from the box office and the private sector, including generous sponsorship from Royal Insurance of £1·1 million over three years. I have every hope and confidence that the RSC will continue to build on its success.