It was back in October that the Salford Star first revealed that Salford City Council was planning to commission an opera at The Lowry for next year's Manchester International Festival.
The opera, called The Life and Death of Marina Abramović – "a biography of the grandmother of performance art re-imagined by visionary director Robert Wilson" – is on for five nights at The Lowry next July, and tickets costing up to £39.50 were already on sale when we tried to find out how much it was costing Salford's council tax payers. But no-one at the Council would tell us (see the highly entertaining feature here)…
We asked under the Freedom of Information Act and, ironically on the morning after huge cuts to Salford's funding have been announced (see here), we received a reply and can reveal that the cost of the opera will be £150,000.
The huge sum of money is, apparently, coming out of a budget set aside three years ago to "support the BBC move" to MediaCityUK. So far, there are no benefits to Salford's community that have been announced.
The full statement from Salford Council reads:
"The Council is proposing to spend £150k towards the total commissioning costs of The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic. The Council agreed to set aside funding in 2007 to support the BBC move to the Quays and, as the festival in 2011 occurs when the BBC arrives, this funding is intended to form the basis of our proposed agreement with Manchester International Festival. We are contributing £150k towards the production costs.
"We are in the process of agreeing the contractual arrangements with Manchester International Festival, which will be considered by the Leader and published in accordance with the Council's procedures."