Welsh National Opera packs its board with paperclips

Welsh National Opera packs its board with paperclips


norman lebrecht

October 28, 2019

The Cardiff-based touring company has a new chair and five board members.

All appears to be arts functionaries, academics or former public officials.

WNO relies for survival on subsidy from Arts Council England.

Instead of finding entrepreneurs who would lead it to financial security, it falls back on bureaucrats.

Press release follows:


Experienced arts professional Yvette Vaughan Jones takes up role of Chair, with five new appointments to the Board of Directors

Welsh National Opera is delighted to announce that Yvette Vaughan Jones has been appointed as Chair of the Board of Directors, with immediate effect. Yvette, who has extensive experience of working in the arts both in the UK and internationally, is the first woman in the Company’s history to hold the role of Chair of WNO.

Five new members have also been appointed to the WNO Board of Directors, strengthening the Board in key areas including governance, finance, diversity, Welsh language and higher education. The appointments take the Board to 13 serving members.

Yvette’s distinguished career in the arts has seen her working for independent arts organisations, the Arts Council of Wales – where she set up Wales Arts International – local authorities, and Welsh Government. Prior to taking up the post of Chief Executive of Visiting Arts, she wrote Cardiff’s bid for City of Culture 2008. Yvette has also worked in Europe as Policy Manager for the Wales Centre in Brussels, and has also focused on international work at Visiting Arts where she set up the global Square Mile project as well as the World Cultures Connect project. She is a former member of the UK Cultural Diplomacy group and former Lead Adviser on the UK Cultural Leadership Programme. Yvette is shortly due to step down from her current role as Chief Executive of Visiting Arts, and will be standing down as Chair of No Fit State Circus in December 2019.



  • James says:

    If she fails at that she can always get a gig as a Helen Mirren lookalike.

  • christopher storey says:

    Sounds like the slippery slope, I’m afraid

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    WNO tours in both England and Wales and therefore gets grants from ACE and the Welsh Arts Council. About time they had an injection of new blood on the Board.Who are the others?

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    England used to be divvied up between WNO and Opera North. So WNO goes to Southampton, Birmingham, Oxford and Liverpool and Opera North does the gigs further north Leeds,Newcastle etc.
    I used to work there so am not making this up. They do get major sponsorships from such as Associated British Ports and used to get BP too.Probably more now.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      That’s about right. It’s a shoddy carve-up and it has contributed in no small measure to the decline of ENO.

  • NightFlight says:

    A risible reactionary analysis, even for you Norman!
    A modest dip into WNO’s website would reveal a board sporting several entrepreneurs already. WNO are to be congratulated for making all female appointments with solid experience and not the flash in the pan types you so clearly prefer. Interested readers would be better advised to read the BBC’s coverage of this story (yes, the very same BBC that Norman reckons are not the slightest bit interested in opera or classical music!)

  • HugoPreuss says:

    “Paperclips”? Honestly? While reasonable people might disagree about the appointments, is it really necessary to add a personal insult to people who, presumably, have distinguished careers in their respective fields?
    The headline is not up to your usual standards.

  • Saxon Broken says:

    Norman writes: “Instead of finding entrepreneurs…it falls back on bureaucrats.”

    Well, the entrepreneurial types might make the organisation more commercially successful. Or they might result in catastrophic loses. Since the tax-payer is bearing the risk, I think it legitimate that the taxpayer insists on a sure small-loss rather than risking something potentially much worse.

    If someone in the private sector wants to take the commercial risk….then good luck to them.