Ulster Orchestra needs to be saved – from its board

Ulster Orchestra needs to be saved – from its board


norman lebrecht

January 13, 2015

It looks as though politicians are close to a deal to secure a future for the insolvent Ulster Orchestra.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the present board, under chairman George Bain, will continue in office.

Bain and his board have been responsible for the arrival and departure of three managers and a welter of unfair dismissal claims.

Five more staff members have left since October, all stating privately that they can no longer work in the present set-up. We understand that local media are investigating the board’s activities but will not publish until the orchestra has fresh funding for fear of frightening the politicians.

Bain, a Canadian with a PhD in industrial relations (sic), is a former president of Queen’s University, Belfast.

What the orchestra needs is a new set of public-spirited faces around its board table.

Ulster Orchestra main image


  • Doug says:

    PhD in “industrial relations”? let me guess, the sweat-shop industry?

  • Pamela Brown says:

    Sounds like Bain needs to acknowledge that he has exceeded his shelf-life and move on, as the dreadful Mr. Henson finally did from the MO…

  • Nicola says:

    Michael Henson did not ruin the Ulster Orchestra, Bain did, along with his Board of Directors who have just overseen the worst financial deficit in the history of the Ulster Orchestra, for the year ended 31/3/14 and subsequently the worst financial planning for the current financial year, which without any intervention will have reduced the orchestra’s reserves to almost zero and resulted in its closure.
    To think that this group of people should be allowed to continue in office after a bailout is secured is incomprehensible and just WRONG. History will repeat itself and if the Ulster Orchestra does not close now, it will do so at some point in the future.
    DCAL / ACNI, show some guts and put your mouth where your money is. These people have to be held accountable for their actions. Otherwise, any bailout given will just be a waste of time and public money.
    In the meantime, we’ve got Bain and his Board scurrying around, acting as saviours but really just trying to save their own skins and reputations because after all, that’s what really counts.

  • Martin says:

    You seem to be knowledgable about the situation and maybe you are close to the orchestra? Have you spoken up or spoken out? If what is being said here is true why has nobody challenged it openly or directly? The public have a right to know what’s been going on.

  • Greenleaves says:

    There are many issues. The poor governance, arrogance and lack of knowledge of the board is clearly one. An aversion to innovation and proactive planning is another. Stifling political context. Serious loss of specialist knowledge and skills, as well as generally insufficient human resource. Archaic facilities and resources. Low morale, and unchallenged, unmanaged personnel.

    This is only the tip of the iceberg. Serious investigations need to take place. Most departing staff seem to have been silenced.

  • Susan Wills says:

    How wrong can you be? The UO would have folded twenty years ago without Michael Henson. He knew exactly what had to be done and did it, though it made him very unpopular. At the time of his departure the organisation was riding high… he certainly didn’t leave because it was failing. That came later.