Part 2 (see Part 1 Salford Council Arts Hypocrisy here...)
It was the beginning of October when Salford Star first discovered that Salford Council was co-commissioning a lavish production at The Lowry for the Manchester International Festival…
"the world premiere of a startling new piece for the stage: The Life and Death of Marina Abramović, a biography of the grandmother of performance art re-imagined by visionary director Robert Wilson."
…It's an opera. It's on for five nights at The Lowry next July, and tickets costing up to £39.50 went on sale from 1st October. The production, with a huge cast and creative team, is commissioned by Manchester International Festival and Teatro Real Madrid with Theater Basel, Art Basel, Holland Festival and Salford City Council.
We couldn't find any reference to this at all in Salford Council's events budget or any of its committee meetings. So we asked the Manchester International Festival how much Salford Council had put into the production. They referred us back to the Council.
Here's the subsequent e-mails between the Salford Star and Salford Council. Enjoy!
Salford Star: Just seen that the Council is sponsoring, yet again, the Manchester International Festival, yet this was never mentioned in any list of events that the Council reported that it was supporting this year.
Which Council committee meeting agreed to do this and the date please? How much is being given and for what event exactly? Does the Council think it is wise to sponsor the Manc Fest when it's about to make cuts to public services?
If I could have an answer by Christmas would be well appreciated (that's a joke by the way, please don't take it literally!)
Salford Council: The festival is held biennially so the next one is in 2011. No decisions have been made on the council's involvement in next year's event.
Meanwhile an e-mail has arrived from Manchester International Festival with a quote from Festival Director Alex Poots…
"It's great to be working with Salford City Council at such an exciting moment for the region. SCC are supporting MIF for a third Festival, this time as co-commissioners of The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic at The Lowry, one of the biggest shows for the 2011 event… We look forward to working with SCC on this production and on two large scale family-orientated commissions based in Salford which will be announced at our programme launch in March."
Salford Star: [But] they announced it last week - with Salford City Council as one of the funders. If no decision has been made why are they announcing it? …just spoken to MIF and they've confirmed it. So I'll ask again...
Which Council committee meeting agreed to do this and the date please? How much is being given and for what event exactly? Does the Council think it is wise to sponsor the Manc Fest when it's about to make cuts to public services?...
Look forward to hearing from you - as soon as possible!
Salford Star: Still had no reply re the Council's sponsorship of the Manc Fest - at this rate it will be over by the time someone from the Council decides to comment...
12th October 15:30
Salford Council: Please see below a council comment in response to your query about the Manchester International Festival. I'm sorry in the delay in coming back to you on this but the line confirms our position.
Councillor Barry Warner, Salford City Council's Lead Member for Culture and Leisure said: "The Council has been preparing for some years now to make sure that when the BBC finally moves to MediaCityUK, we continue to make the most of this opportunity to promote Salford and our facilities. Commissioning a show at The Lowry for the public to enjoy as part of the Manchester International Festival provides us with a great link between the two.
"Our partnership with The Lowry makes it possible for us to offer world-class performances to the public and it's an opportunity for Salford to showcase its culture and tourism offerings. Details of the Salford programme for the festival or our events programme for 2011 have not yet been confirmed."
12th October 15:42
Salford Star: Thanks for that at last - but it is absolute garbage. The event that "isn't confirmed" is actually being advertised with Salford Council's name all over it. And tickets are actually on sale, funnily enough.
Is it possible for Cllr Warner to give us a response to this? By Christmas of course.
12th October 15:48
Salford Council: We have confirmed that we are supporting the MIF event but the details of the full programme for Salford has not yet been confirmed.
12th October 15:55
Salford Star: If you've confirmed that you are supporting the event at the Lowry then why has no-one answered my question - ie how much is it costing and at which meeting was it decided?
If the Council isn't saying, then just give me a quote along the lines of... "We're not telling you"
12th October 16:13
Salford Council: the full Salford programme has not been confirmed so I can't give you a definitive answer on the costs.
12th October 16:32
Salford Star: The event, The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic at The Lowry has been co-commissioned by the Council. Please don't tell me that they don't know the costs? A non-definitive answer will do.
12th October 16:38
Salford Council: If you're asking specifically about The Lowry show I'll have to look into it and come back to you.
12th October 16:49
Salford Star: Yes please!!!
13th October 13:29
Salford Star: Any joy?
13th October 13:46
Salford Council: Regarding your query about costs for the commissioning of The Lowry show. I can't provide you with an answer to this as the commissioning process is not complete so it will not have been costed. I'm still awaiting an answer on your query about the committee meeting.
13th October 16:23
Salford Star: Sorry, still find it hard to believe this - a show has been commissioned and tickets sold without knowing the cost? Even Salford Council can't be that useless can it? Or maybe it is…
And here the correspondence on this particular piece of Salford Council's accountability ended.
As a guide, the Council spent £110,000 on the Carlos Acosta(lottamoney) at The Lowry for the last Manchester International Festival (see here). It would be nice to know how much next year's Manc Fest is costing. But, a month on and we still haven't had any answers…
1) How much is Salford Council spending on The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic?
2) Who agreed to fund it and where is that decision on Council minutes?
3) Does the Council think it is wise to sponsor the Manc Fest when it's about to make cuts to public services?...
Coming soon… The Hazel Blears Rent On Langworthy Road e-mails…
See Part 1 of this article - Salford Council Arts Hypocrisy - click here