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Wednesday, 24 May 1972
Page: 2049

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts, upon notice:

(1)   How long has the Australian Opera Company been in existence.

(2)   By how much does the Commonwealth subsidise the activities of the Opera Company.

(3)   How much is contributed by each of the States and local government organisations towards assisting the Australian Opera Company.

(4)   Does the opera permanently employ 30 resident singers, a music staff of 6, a chorus of 33 singers and an administrative and technical staff of 28.

(5)   Were J2 guest artists, 2 guest conductors, a vocal coach, 2 guest producers and 5 designers engaged by the Australian Opera during the year.

(6)   Is the Australian Opera Company less subsidised by Government than overseas opera companies.

(7)   Has the Ministers' attention been drawn to a statement, by the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Company, that a lot more money will be. needed to reach the international standard expected of it by the time the Sydney Opera House opens next year and that the Company will need to work towards a chorus of 70, orchestral strength of 100 musicians and be able to engage more resident Australian singers.

(8)   What action does the Government intend taking to enable the Australian Opera Company to employ more Australian musicians and singers, in order to bring the Opera up to international standards, and what consideration is the Government giving to bring the price of admission within the range of the average Australian citizen who, because of cost, is now prohibited from enjoying performances of the Opera Company.

Senator GREENWOOD-The Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

I have been informed that:

(1)   The Australian Opera was incorporated as a company on 28th September 1970 and began operating as a company from 1st January 1971. Before that date the company was known as the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust Opera and bad been operating since 1956.

(2)   $650,000 was provided by way of a general grant in 1971-72. Further grants totalling $19,120 were provided to train opera and technical personnel.

(3)   State Government and local support for the company is normally channelled through the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust. For the year 1972 the company received through the Trust a grant of $185,000. <4) The Australian Opera Company at present has permanently employed 34 resident singers, 36 chorus members, a music staff of 7 and on administrative and technical staff of 28.

(5)   During 1971 the Australian Opera engaged 12 guest artists, 2 guest conductors, 2 guest producers and 6 designers.

(6)   The level of government support for opera companies varies. European opera houses receive about a 70 per cent government subsidy, Britain's Covent Garden receives 50 per cent, whereas major companies in the United States receive no government support at all. Government subsidies provided to the Australian Opera for 1971 represent about 42 per cent of total income.

(7)   I am aware of the Australian Opera Company's claims for additional subsidies relating to the company's preparation for the Sydney Opera House.

(8)   The Australian Council is at present considering the Australian Opera's budgetary submissions for .1973 and will be discussing with the company its plans, including its proposed ticket prices, before making recommendations regarding the company's grant for the financial year 1972-73.

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