BRITAIN'S WORLD-RENOWNED ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY (RSC) is reportedly in crisis and may even cease to exist by the end of the decade. Despite recently garnering eight US Tony Awards for its latest highly acclaimed blockbuster, ``Les Mis'erables,'' the drama troupe has been increasingly dogged by severe cash difficulties. The problem is largely attributed to the Thatcher government's commitment to reducing state funding for the arts. This attitude has translated into a steady decrease, in real terms, of state subsidy for the RSC since the early 1980s. Added to this, the company had a poor season at the box office last year, although this year's intake is very much on the upswing. But whatever the ticket sales, it apparently will not in itself be enough to dig the RSC out of the red. THE WORLD ASSOCIATION OF SYMPHONIC BANDS AND ENSEMBLES is meeting at Boston University for its third international conference. The organization, which comprises band music composers, conductors, and musicians from 34 countries, gathers this week to promote the activities of wind bands through concerts, panel discussions, and premi`eres of new works. Participating bands include the Yananaski Union Band (Japan), Akko Youth Band (Israel), Symphonique `a Vent Region Bourgogne (France), Hamar Musikkorps (Norway), and the United States Marine and Air Force Bands. HANDEL'S OPERA `ARIODANTE' HAS OPENED AT THE SANTA FE OPERA in New Mexico. Nicholas McGegan conducts, and John Copley directs this opera, the first Handel work presented by the company, and Tatiana Troyanos makes her Santa Fe debut in the title role. Remaining performance dates are tonight, July 31, and Aug. 8, 12, and 21. Richard Strauss's ``Die Schweigsame Frau'' (or ``The Silent Woman'') opens Saturday.

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