RSC Reports Growing Annual Deficit & UncertaintyDate: 4 December 2002
The release today of 2001/2002 annual accounts of the Royal Shakespeare Company, just two days after those of the National Theatre, shows the country's two flagship theatrical institutions in starkly different financial positions.
While on Monday the National reported the elimination of a £626,000 deficit in favour of a £99,000 surplus (thanks largely to the success of the musicals My Fair Lady (pictured) and South Pacific - the RSC has reported a £1 million growth in its deficit, sinking it nearly £2.5 million in the red.
Much of the financial misery has been attributed to two controversial London-based schemes taken by outgoing artistic director Adrian Noble: the expensive withdrawal from the company's base at the Barbican Centre, and the short-term promenade season at the Roundhouse. In his opening statement to the annual report, RSC Chairman, Lord Alexander, admitted while the Barbican withdrawal in favour of itinerant Roundhouse-like engagements, had provided "artistic flexibility", it hadn't been wholly successful.
"It is important for our audiences in London to know where the RSC can regularly be found. We are undoubtedly wiser from our experience of the last 12 months and there is no question of our behaving anything other than cautiously and prudently in regard to our future in the capital." But however cautious, it seems the company won't be on the street for long: "I think in the future the RSC will also need a regular home in London."
Another uncertainty remains the plans for redevelopment at Stratford. This is, says Alexander, "imperative for the future of the RSC and Stratford's economic prosperity, but also an immensely sobering responsibility." A firm decision on how precisely this should be done, and of the future of the listed Royal Shakespeare Theatre, is expected by mid-2003.
The various proposals for change at the RSC have sparked endless controversy over the past two years. After spearheading the shake-up, artistic director Adrian Noble, weary from continued critical and public censure, announced his resignation this past April. The RSC overhaul - including the withdrawing from the Barbican - followed by Noble's resignation proved so significant for audiences that it made the nominations shortlist for Theatre Event of the Year in the just-announced 2003 Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers' Choice Awards.
The RSC also unveiled today its plans for an ambitious 2003 season, including the return of acting alumni Henry Goodman, Emma Fielding, Alexandra Gilbreath and Jasper Britton (for more programming information, see Today's News).
- Terri Paddock