English National Opera appoints Cressida Pollock as interim chief executive

Pollock, who will join on 24 March, is tasked with making changes at the charity to get it readmitted to Arts Council England's national portfolio

English National Opera
English National Opera

The English National Opera has appointed the management consultant Cressida Pollock as interim chief executive.

Pollock, who will join the charity on 24 March, has been an associate at the consultancy McKinsey & Company since 2013.

She will be tasked with making changes at the charity that will enable it to be readmitted to the Arts Council England’s national portfolio of funded organisations.

ACE announced last month that it had removed the ENO from its national portfolio and instituted a special funding arrangement because of serious concerns about the charity’s governance and business model. ACE also noted that there had been uncertainty about ENO’s senior leadership team.

It came after Henriette Götz, executive director at the ENO, and Martyn Rose, its chair, both announced in January that they would be standing down. Götz had been in post for nine months.

ACE told the ENO that it would have to meet a series of conditions to receive grant funding, which would be £12.4m a year for two years plus £6.1m in transition funding to help it make changes to its business model.

A spokesman for the ENO said today that Pollock would remain with the company until it was readmitted to ACE’s national portfolio.

"The Arts Council will conduct a review into our progress in November 2015," he said. "We are working towards being readmitted to the national portfolio at this point."

He declined to say how much Pollock would be paid.

ENO was informed last summer that its funding would fall by £5m a year, from £17.2m, in the 2015-18 funding round.

The ENO was originally part of the national portfolio announced in July last year. All the organisations in it have to produce satisfactory business plans before final funding is agreed.

The Arts Council said it had identified significant risks in ENO’s proposed business plan, even though the charity had worked hard to address the problems the Arts Council highlighted in its analysis of opera and ballet in 2013.

In that analysis, it told ENO that it needed to radically change its business model to address falling ticket sales and achieve greater stability.

A spokeswoman for the Arts Council said last month that ENO had been told it must recruit a director capable of developing a new business model, strengthen its financial operations and recruit a permanent chair. 

The appointment was made by a panel of ENO board members, led by Harry Brünjes, acting chair, with Joyce Wilson, area director for London at the Arts Council England.

Brünjes said: "The board and I are delighted that Cressida has joined ENO to lead the executive team during a time of transformational change. No one has a better understanding of the work that needs to be done in order to be readmitted to the Arts Council’s national portfolio this November."

Pollock said: "I am thrilled to have the opportunity to play this role at one of the UK’s leading arts institutions. I am greatly looking forward to working closely with the board and the senior management team during what is a critical time for ENO."

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