Culture hopes to dance through the downturn

Recession? What recession? As UK plc battens down the hatches for an economic slump, Manchester yesterday confirmed ambitious plans to give the Royal Opera and Royal Ballet a northern base.

The plan involves the £80m refurbishment of Manchester’s historic Palace Theatre and a long-term commitment to finance a second home for the two national companies from 2013. Coming on top of Manchester’s new international festival and the BBC’s proposals to move a chunk of its production and administration to the city, the announcement solidifies Manchester’s aim to become a creative hub.

Sir Richard Leese, leader of the city council, said the new facility “would bring significant economic benefit to the city”.

But it also gives the impression that, far from being the Cinderella of the British economy, the arts inhabit a gilded cage – one of the few sectors of public life to escape the credit crunch.

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