Exclusive: Arts Council lied. Bazalgette *is* involved with ENO pressure

Arts Council England has maintained throughout that its chairman Sir Peter Bazalgette, former chair of English National Opera, ‘recuses himself’ from all discussions to do with the company which ACE is seeking to shrink and threatening to eliminate.

A Freedom of Information request by a Slipped Disc reader yielded the following response:

bazal

 

You requested:
 
Under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, please supply me with a list of the information which you hold about English National Opera (ENO), including file names relating to English National Opera; emails, faxes, letters, phone logs and records and notes of phone conversations to and from Sir Peter Balzagette (Chair of the Arts Council) and Dr Harry Brunjes (current Chair of the ENO Board) from 1st January 2015 to 12th February 2016 (inclusive); and emails, faxes, letters, phone logs and records and notes of phone conversations to and from Darren Henley (Chief Executive of the Arts Council) and Dr Harry Brunjes from 1st January 2015 to 12th February 2016 (inclusive).
 
Also please supply me with full notes and minutes of meetings between either Sir Peter Balzagette and/or Darren Henley, and Dr Harry Brunjes (including meetings at which others were present) from 1st January 2015 to 12th February 2016, inclusive.
 
Our Response:
 
Please see below a list of all meetings between Dr Harry Brunjes, Darren and Baz.  Please note that there are no minutes or notes for any of these meetings.  The attached email train is the only correspondence we hold between Harry Brunjes and Darren or Baz.
 
Meetings with Dr Harry Brunjes and Sir Peter Bazalgette or Darren Henley:
 
23 April 2015: Coffee – Dr Harry Brunjes and Sir Peter Bazalgette
 
11 June 2015: Meeting – Darren Henley, Joyce Wilson, Dr Harry Brunjes and Cressida Pollock
 
2 July 2015: Meeting – Darren Henley, Joyce Wilson, Dr Harry Brunjes
 
10 October 2015: Lunch – Sir Peter Bazalgette and Dr Harry Brunjes
 
16 October 2015: Meeting – Darren Henley, Joyce Wilson, Dr Harry Brunjes
 
You will notice that some information has been withheld in the attached email.

Not involved, then? Up to his elbows.

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  • It’s amazing Bazalgette has any credibility with his low-brow past :

    1) He has written, or co-written,books such as “You Don’t Have to Diet”

    2) Victor Lewis-Smith said that Bazalgette had “done more to debase television over the past decade than anyone else.”

    3) The Guardian say “Under Bazalgette’s watch, TV schedules resembled a televisual tranquiliser, administered from the top table of British society, down to the TV diners at the bottom. He would of course, dismiss this as miserable, puritanical carping, before popping off to a box at the ENO to catch a simply delightful performer sing their heart out (while you watched Ground Force).

    4) The Independent argued that he may be “the most influential man in British television” as a result of his impact on the development of reality television and lifestyle TV programmes.

  • On TWITTER earlier this afternoon —-

    SaveENO asks: @PeterBazalgette Plse clarify yr role in the proposed changes @E_N_O. It was believed you had recused yourself.

    PETER BAZALGETTE answers: @Save_ENO @E_N_O Thanks for the question. Yes, I can categorically state that I was not part of ACE decisions about ENO.

  • The Freedom of Information request should be for minutes of meetings held by ACE of their review of the 7 ballet and opera companies between the time Sir Peter Bazalgette joined ACE, I believe in 2013 and the completion of the review in 2014. The request should be for those present during these meetings when ENO was discussed as part of the proposed reduction in ACE funding. That should clarify whether Sir Peter Bazalgette was involved in the decision making process. If he was not, there should be no objection to the request.

  • Good scoop, Norman. In other news, Sir Peter is off shortly to be the new chairman of ITV. We wonder why (it’s a pretty lousy job these days) unless the government wants him to arrange it to be sold off, to a major US company perhaps. As his distinguished ancestor knew, sewage tends to sink to the lowest level.

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