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14 Dec 2005

Divas and dabblers — The lesson of the crisis in English opera is that we have to overhaul how the arts are governed,11710,1666756,00.html

Charlotte Higgins [The Guardian, 14 December 2005]

If Martin Smith, chairman of English National Opera, survives the week in his post, it will be a miracle. The opera company, once more famous for theatrical invention and fearlessness than for cock-ups, is in meltdown. The sacking of artistic director Seán Doran two weeks ago can only mean that the rumours which have been wafting out of the London Coliseum about financial troubles (despite an £11m Arts Council England bailout in 2003) are true. The council has condemned the coronation of Doran's successors - tantamount to a withdrawal of support from Smith. He, meanwhile, has self-deludingly posted a letter on the ENO website about the company's "genuine and very exciting renaissance". The words Nero, fiddling and Rome spring to mind.

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