Chineke! loses several directors

Chineke! loses several directors


norman lebrecht

September 21, 2022

Companies House shows five simultaneous resignations this month among directors of the Chineke Foundation, which promotes diversity in British orchestral life.

There are now just three active directors of the Chineke Foundation: Candace Allen, Chi-chi Nwanoku and Kenneth Tharp.



  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Not enough with one director? Maybe that orchestra got too much funding and needs to use it somehow.

    • IC225 says:

      Directors on UK orchestra boards are not usually paid.

    • Legal Beagle says:

      All you are displaying here is your lack of understanding of how charity governance works. Any registered charity would have a number of trustees who would also be directors of the limited company.

      It may be that part of the memorandum and articles of the charity requires board members to step down after a specific period of time in which case this is a massive non-story, or perhaps there is some trouble behind the scenes that has caused a mass exodus. @NL have you reached out to any of the departing trustees or Chineke! for comment?

    • Burt says:

      These are not paid Directors, but charity ones (also trustees as per the Charity Commission) – no remumeration allowed under charity law. There is still only one Artistic Director and General Manager according to the website, both of whom I assume get paid.

      Most boards of orchestras of this size and turnover have between 7-12 trustees, so this is interesting.

    • Emil says:

      Directors are members of the “Board of Directors” of a company. By definition you can’t have just one – you need to have a board.

  • UK Arts Administrator says:

    Chineke Foundation is a registered charity and a limited company. Therefore all their statutory documents have to be made publicly available, and everything in this set of comments is drawn only from those documents. Almost every UK orchestra, small or large, enjoys charitable status. More unusual though for Chineke (but not unknown in “founder driven” orchestras) is that, alongside (as described in the Chineke accounts) being “Founder, Artistic Director and Executive Director”, Ms Nwanoku is also a trustee of the charity and a company director, and according to the foundation’s published accounts is also paid for her work, in her case, it would appear, on a consultancy basis. The Chineke Foundation Mem and Arts does allow for the possibility to pay a trustee, and the Charity Commission will have allowed this trustee payment clause to be included when the charity was set up.

    However, the sums paid to Ms Nwanoku are not insignificant. In the year ending 31.03.2020 she received £42,000 as her artistic consultancy fee (plus £17,172 in fees for performing with the orchestra). But in the year ending 31.03.2021, despite the foundation’s turnover reducing significantly (due to the pandemic), Ms Nwanoku’s artistic consultancy fee rose by 50% to £63,100 (plus £8,500 in fees for her musical performances). The accounts to 31.03.2022 do not need to be published until nine months after financial year end. A lot of Arts Council money has been put into Chineke Foundation, so it is not unreasonable that any relevant questions be raised. An interesting final twist is that, with only three trustees/directors remaining for the foundation, Ms Nwanuku is now presumably a “person with significant control”, though this is not yet showing as having been lodged with the statutory body. Regarding the resignations of trustees there is nothing in Chineke’s Mem and Arts that compels them to resign after a set period of time, and of course there may be a perfectly valid reason why several trustees resigned at the same time.

  • Arts admin says:

    If you think that’s bad you should look into the mass exodus of staff and players and the unceremonious firings. One such firing was through a Facebook message.

  • Ida Dunham says:

    Not surprising.

  • Anon Admin says:

    Personal testimony- in response to Arts Admin’s comment about the mass exodus of staff, players and unceremonious firings, this is 100% true. People were informed about their removal with very little to no warning that there was even a problem. Typical conversations about mundane tasks would escalate by Ms Nwanoku and suddenly one found oneself being publicly reprimanded in an all- staff email. Sometimes partnering organisations or even parents of the Junior orchestra were included in these exchanges. Besides being incredibly embarrassing, these outbursts made it challenging to encourage stakeholders to continue working with Chineke. Any shred of professionalism could be found in the General Manager, but even he was unsuccessful in preventing Ms Nwanoku from berating staff and musicians like naughty school children.

    As an experienced arts administrator who has worked with many organisations, Ms Nwanoku’s incessant meddling made it difficult to get the job done. She would either micromanage every detail or simply do it herself. The lack of trust, disrespect and vitriol from Ms Nwanoku was astonishing and as a result, staff morale was extremely low. The excitement I felt when I first joined the organisation was quickly replaced by stress and anxiety. Simply put, the company culture was intolerable.

    The biggest issue however, is the fact that the trustees have known about these problems for years. Their sudden exodus earlier this month indicates that either they were fed up trying to turn the organisation around or another development arose and they realised that couldn’t save Ms Nwanoku from herself any longer. Chineke Foundation’s mission has clearly demonstrated that an orchestra can both be a reflection of the community it serves and be successful. In less than a decade, it has achieved a lot and it can do so much more- but that simply is not possible under its current leadership.

    A tabula rasa is the only way forward for this organisation. – A.A. Anon

  • Concerned parents says:

    We are parents concerned by Chinekes abject failure to adequately safeguard our children on tour in Europe this summer, and the impossibility of having a straight forward conversation about this with the management, for fear of retribution on our young people on future projects. We sought reassurances about whether a safeguarding policy would be put in place in future from trustees but they are no longer in post.
    We don’t know what to do, posting here as a last resort.

  • Repetiteur says:

    Interesting that the founder is happy to accept British imperialistic honours (having now reached the rank of CBE I believe) but not happy to play the national anthem at a concert in Europe after the Queen died because of its imperialistic connections – people might consider there is more than a touch of hypocrisy there perhaps?

  • David Fielding says:

    Ms Nwanoku is of ‘dual heritage’. Why can she embrace only 50% of it? Few voices support those of ‘mixed parentage’ – a new hobby(-horse?) for her?