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Singer joins ENO board

February 28, 2017 by norman lebrecht

4 comments.


The accomplished mezzo Sally Burgess was co-opted today onto the baffled board of English National Opera, where she has been singing since 1978.

If only other board members had equivalent experience.

photo: Bill Knight


Comments (4)

  1. Richard Gibbs says:

    Sally Burgess will make an excellent addition to the Board but, sad to say, it doesn’t much matter who they co-opt onto the Board, until they appoint a proper, experienced Intendant, it will not make any difference at all.

  2. Peter Freeman says:

    Did anyone see the Standard the other night about such matters? thisislondon.co.uk search ENO

  3. Jeffrey E. Salzberg says:

    While her being a singer will undoubtedly give her insight, it doesn’t means she has the other qualifications necessary for an effective board member.

  4. Tom says:

    I am continually amazed by the flak the ENO board gets from every direction.

    I am no apologist for corporate stooges, but the coverage they keep getting is, in many ways, unfair.

    Consider: if they do all the artistically daring things that the artistic community (and critical fraternity) keep asking for – by which I mean new and risky productions of works that are little-known – the chances are they won’t sell enough tickets to generate the necessary revenue.

    If, on the other hand, they cut every cost going, they will struggle to deliver anything of value. To make matters worse, corporate sponsors aren’t interested in ENO because it’s in a much less attractive venue that ROH and doesn’t have the prestige. On top of that, the Arts Council has reduced its core grant considerably (though I accept they’ve had bailout help over the years, much of which was necessitated by taking over the Coliseum).

    What I am getting at is: it’s a balancing act, and one that’s practically impossible to do in such a way as to please everyone. If the artists got a greater say in how the place was run, it would be bankrupt within a year. This isn’t any criticism of the artists’ wishes; more a simple statement that they are artists who’ve been trained to do singing and playing, not finding the money to cover it all. Artistic dreams are all well and good, but are of bugger all use if someone isn’t finding the money to pay for them. Speaking as a pretty experienced musician who is also a lawyer (and who therefore has a foot in both camps), I am continually amazed at the disconnect between artistic ambition and commercial reality in so many organisations.

    ENO does indeed have problems, but I think to blame their current board and/or Cressida Pollock for them all while blithely saying that they should do what their artists want with no regard for the cost is just plain misleading.


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