BBC hires more highly paid arts execs

BBC hires more highly paid arts execs


norman lebrecht

March 25, 2021

The BBC is planning increased arts investment, it says today:

BBC Two will increase its resources for arts and music, whilst BBC Four becomes the home of arts and music performance and will bring together collections of the most distinctive content from the BBC’s rich archive. The BBC will also open up its entire BBC Local Radio network to local arts organisations.

The BBC needs to be in the best possible shape to drive forward these ambitions. A new structure will see Arts and Classical Music TV commissioning fully integrated into BBC Content under the leadership of Patrick Holland. As the Director of a new Factual, Arts and Classical Music genre, Patrick will take on an expanded remit. 

Two new leadership roles have been created: a new Head Of Arts And Classical Music and a dedicated TV commissioner responsible for the BBC Proms and classical music on TV to guarantee classical music specialism is retained at the heart of commissioning within the broader factual team. 

Patrick Holland starts in his new role as Director of Factual, Arts & Classical Music in April. He will start the process of recruiting a new Head of Arts and Classical Music immediately. Meanwhile Lamia Dabboussy will act up as Head of Arts.

Of course.



  • V.Lind says:

    Sorry, but despite the hiring of a new officer, after years of cutbacks, this seems like nothing but very good news. It suggests a wholehearted commitment to arts and classical music, and it needs someone to steer it, fight for it, for its budget and programming. Someone dedicated and not just introducing — or reintroducing — a watery set of token activities.

    “…to guarantee classical music specialism is retained at the heart of commissioning…” — isn’t that what we have all been hoping for from the BBC?

    Tim Davie indicated that he intended to go in that direction when he assumed the DG job. I seem to remember that somewhere in these pages someone recently complained that he had not done much about it yet. This seems to be a step in the right direction, and as such I am bemused as to the hostility. Are there just some people and institutions that can do no right, no matter what it is they do?

    • Rogerio says:

      I recon the BBC will be fine as long as it manages to keep out paedophiles like James Levine.
      That is no easy task, as they are literally EVERYWHERE.

      • Allen says:

        Do you know what “literally” means?

        • Ashu says:

          By now “literally” has become a simple intensifier. This kind of erosion reflects a universal principle of language. All your fetishized correctnesses were innovations or degenerations until the day before yesterday.

    • Derek H says:

      It does seem to be good news. I agree it is strange that it is presented in a negative, knee-jerk way.

    • Herbie G says:

      One swallow does not make a summer though…

  • Anonymous says:

    Another suit to head up Head of Arts and Classical Music! A tick box exercise. Oxbridge no doubt, not somebody who has earned their living performing or creating. No surprises there.

    • La plus belle voix says:

      Before he joined the BBC, he was the MD of one of Britain’s biggest factual independent production companies, “Boundless”. He was responsible for the creation of the new documentary series “An Hour To Save Your Life” (BBC Two), “World’s Toughest Jobs” (BBC Three), “Britain At The Bookies” (BBC One) and “Dara And Ed’s Great Big Adventure” (BBC Two). I have no idea about the merits or otherwise of these televisual bean-feasts. For the record, he read Philosophy at Emmanuel College Cambridge and the University of Sussex. So that’s town and gown on the one hand, and quasi red brick on the other hand. So let’s give him a chance in these challenging times.

    • Cambridge Musician says:

      There are plenty of Oxbridge graduates who have earned their living performing and creating – Tom Adès, John Mark Ainsley, Sir George Benjamin, Harry Bicket, Ian Bostridge, Harry Christophers, Nick Collon, Sir Andrew Davis, Sir Mark Elder, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Ed Gardner, Jane Glover, Susan Gritton, Emma Johnson, Dame Emma Kirkby, Joanna MacGregor, Sir Roger Norrington, Sir Simon Rattle, Donald Runnicles, Thomas Trotter, Judith Weir…

      • V.Lind says:

        And that’s just music.

      • Anon says:

        Yes! Notice how many are conductors, that silent aspect of being a musician…as we say, can never hear their mistakes, nor see them, as which self respecting muso in a high performance band looks at them! Emperors New Clothes.

        • Cambridge Musician says:

          There are also LOADS of fabulous professional orchestral musicians with an Oxbridge background, but they aren’t such household names as conductors, composers and soloists and I didn’t therefore list their names

      • Joseph says:

        Not to mention a high percentage if not the majority of Organist-Choirmasters in English cathedrals.

  • Zandonai says:

    When is Biden going to hire a Secretary of Culture?

  • gcmp says:

    What do they mean by “Factual” content? Is that going to overwhelm arts content? Also, the BBC needs to learn how to capitalize: “Head Of Arts And Classical Music”

  • C says:

    Performers and creatives do not always make good executives, unless they’ve studied management and fundraising. A good model for an arts-related organization is to split the leadership between a chief executive and a chief artistic officer who are coequals. And please remember that most arts executives have a deep knowledge of and love for classical music–it’s usually the only reason they forgo a more lucrative corporate career.

    • Bridge says:

      Clive Gillinson. LSO tutti cellist. Then Managing Director of the LSO. Now supremo at Carnegie Hall. Discuss. It’s Sir Clive now!

    • Herbie G says:

      Couldn’t agree more, C (although the ‘co’ in coequals is surely tautologous).
      I have an idea. I believe that the BBC should start a new radio station devoted to classical music and drama. Complete works, no snippets a la CFM, no celebs, no chatter, no ‘drive time’ or breakfast ‘shows’. Bring back ‘Talking About Music’ – a weekly programme in which one work was placed under the spotlight, with an illustrated introduction to its layout and special features. Bring back Music Magazine – an hour with four 15-minute talks about musical subjects. Bring back ‘The Innocent Ear’. Present great plays (Shakespeare, Rattigan, Shaw, Wilde, Pinter etc). Bring back ‘Your Concert Choice’. Forget about trying to entice any particular age or ethnic groups – just make it friendly and inviting.
      I remember listening to the above-mentioned programmes every week as a youngster and that’s what developed my passion for classical music.
      If anyone could add lustre to this station, it would be Rob Cowan, to me the most ‘user friendly’ broadcaster around. What a shame he felt impelled to jump ship when the dumbing down started.
      One is entitled to dream…

  • A Cynical Pale Stale Old Male says:

    BBC Radio 3 has less and less classical content every time i tune in, presumably in a desperate attempt to be woke.
    Classic FM is unlistenable ( adverts ) , Radio 3 rapidly becoming unlistenable for other reasons. what is the excuse for Saturday morning’s awful breakfast show? More Petroc and more Jonathan Swain, less jazz for one thing, and less presenters who sound like primary school teaching assistants. oh dear i must be misogynist now.BBC Radio FOUR has been unlisteable for years, only for the woke, who will not be listening to an old fuddy duddy’s station anyway.

  • Dander says:

    There is zero classical music on BBC TV. I recall a ring cycle from Bayreuth back in 1980 Face the Music show quiz, now its all fly on wall shite and celebs.

  • Dander says:

    Radio 3 has gone down terribly and dumbed down. We now get wee snippets instead of whole works, even Composer of the week does that.