Thursday, 10 April 2014

ENO appoints Surprise Executive Director

Surprise new Executive Director at the ENO - or maybe not such a surprise, since candidates from within are few and far between. The post has been up for grabs since July last year, so presumably the news got round in the business long before the job was advertised in November. This is a critical assignment, at a time when the ENO is facing big challenges. So what might this mean ? (Please read my other pieces on the situation at the ENO - About Anthony Whitworth Jones HERE and Radical rethink HERE and ENO Vindicted HERE.

The new Executive Director is Henrietta Götz, who will start within a few weeks. Götz has twenty years experience since university, which would make her 40 something. She was most recently Executive Director of Vlaamse Opera, Belgium, which she joined in 2009 and left recently. .She also runs Arts & Consulting Int., an international consultancy providing finance, organisation, marketing and sponsoring advice and management services to arts and cultural institutions. You don't need to be a "creative" to run the business end of an arts organization as long as you care about the arts. Which is more than can be said for UK Ministers of Culture.

More unusually she has an interesting background, being connected to the Fidel Götz Foundation which supports charities in the Third World. Not, hopefully, someone who's in awe of money and power ?  Even charities should be run by good business minds. In a job like this, a person's inner personality counts.  (Alas, again a relevant observation on the probity of some UK Ministers for Culture)

This appointment happens exactly - to the very day - of Martyn Rose's appointment as Chairman of the Board at the ENO which heralded a change in management style. Götz will be responsible for leading organisational operations including finance, theatre management, marketing, sales and fundraising functions.Jeremiahs will always howl about the ENO, but in many ways it's in a better condition than it was ten years ago. It has exceeded its box office target for 2013/14 and "will definitely finish the financial year in a balanced position – with the possibility of a small surplus" says the press release.

In the US, opera companies and orchestras are going into meltdown.. Sure, European houses get subsidies, but the cultural demographics are completely different. No-one has yet figured out the best business model, but I think that, at the end of the day, it's how you build the audience. Thank goodness for the ENO's belief in artistic vision. That's the business of any arts organization. The executive side "executes",so the artistic product can sell. Not the other way round.(it's Loretta Tomasi's original job for those who didn't notice)

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