Does the north need the Royal Opera House?
The Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham, says it could be the most significant development in British arts for a generation. The idea of establishing a Royal Opera House in Manchester, a joint project from Covent Garden and Manchester City Council, has been talked about for some time.
A report into the scheme was commissioned from the leading arts consultant Graham Marchant by Arts Council England, and is published today on their website. Marchant says the idea is a genuinely altruistic attempt to make the benefits of the ROH's artistic work (opera and ballet) available to a wider geographical constituency. The base for this would be the Palace Theatre; the capital costs of refurbishing it and making it a producing house for the ROH and others will be in the region of £100m. And that is just for starters.
The report now provides a basis for debate about access to the arts, and also how to make our national cultural institutions, many based in London, truly national. It won't be a reality for sometime to come but this is a start. What do you think? Does Manchester need an opera house? Will it, as the Culture Secretary says, have a transformative effect on the cultural life of the north of England, be a driver of economic growth, and cement Manchester's status as a world city?