December 4, 2008 / 3:06 PM / 10 years ago

Royal Ballet seeks new revenue from fashion tie-in

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - London’s Royal Ballet is looking beyond just ticket sales for revenue by teaming up with Italian dance and fitness clothes maker Freddy. In a partnership that could help the world-famous dance company ride out the recession, which is expected to hit demand for its shows, Freddy has designed a collection of clothes specifically for the dancers and another to go on general sale.

The deal, which involves a licensing agreement as well as Freddy sponsoring the troupe, is worth an initial 400,000 pounds, a figure which could rise if sales in Freddy’s 2,500 stores worldwide live up to expectations.

The Royal Ballet Dancers Collection will also be available to buy from from December 8.

“There is the brand and we are a global brand,” said Jane Storie, head of business development at the Royal Opera House in central London which incorporates the ballet.

“We tour every year and have ambitions to tour more. Whenever we go overseas, we want to have something to say and something to sell and be able to exploit the fan base,” she told Reuters after the dancers’ collection was unveiled.

“We’ve managed to balance our books for the last six years, but it’s going to be a tough year and we see there is a changing need for additional income streams,” she added.

Journalists were allowed backstage to watch a Royal Ballet rehearsal, where dancers wore black tops, sweat trousers, shorts, leggings and jackets designed by Freddy.

Monica Mason, director of the Royal Ballet, said she was happy to see a dance troupe dressed in black, especially as they usually looked “as if they’ve fished around in the bottom of a laundry basket to get themselves ready for class.”

The dancers worked with Freddy creative director Giacomo Novello to create the clothing.

The fashion tie-in is the latest venture by the Royal Opera House to generate more revenue and broaden its audience base at a time when recession fears are expected to hit attendances at traditionally expensive shows.

Following the lead of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the company has launched a series shows that are beamed live into selected cinemas in Britain and Europe.

And it also offered cheap tickets to the opening night of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” in September exclusively to readers of the Sun tabloid.

Reaction to the plan was mixed, with the best-selling Sun daily calling it “an amazing moment in British culture” but the Guardian newspaper’s classical music critic Andrew Clements countering that it “smacked of desperation.”

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