LONDON — Cressida Pollock, chief executive of the English National Opera, will leave her position at the end of the current season, four months before her contract expires. Her departure is the latest in a long series of departures from the beleaguered organization, which has had major funding cuts and management upheaval over the last two years.
Ms. Pollock, 35, who previously worked at an investment fund and for McKinsey & Company, was hired in March 2015, less than a year after Arts Council England, the company’s principal funding body, cut its contribution 29 percent and questioned the organization’s financial stability. Soon after her appointment, made permanent in September 2015, John Berry, the longtime artistic director of English National Opera, left his post.
Controversy over Ms. Pollock’s lack of arts management experience dominated her first months, and the threat of a strike from the chorus was narrowly averted after a labor agreement in March 2016 accepted pay cuts, layoffs and a move to nine-month contracts from yearlong ones. The number of productions at the Coliseum, the company’s home theater, was reduced to eight from 11 for the 2016-17 season, so that the opera house could be rented out at other times.
In an article written before the labor agreement was reached, Ms. Pollock said that some of these decisions had felt like “a Sophie’s choice.” Days after it was finalized, Mark Wigglesworth, the company’s new music director, resigned. In April, the company announced the appointment of Daniel Kramer, an American theater and opera director, as artistic director. There have been reports of tensions between Ms. Pollock and Mr. Kramer over production costs.
Ms. Pollock’s measures appear to have improved the company’s financial situation. The Arts Council has said it no longer has serious concerns about English National Opera’s finances, and Harry Brunjes, the chairman of the company, which performs in English, said in a statement that Ms. Pollock’s tenure had “turned around our fortunes to deliver financial security.”
In the same statement, Ms. Pollock described herself as “greatly saddened” to leave English National Opera. Neither Ms. Pollock nor Mr. Brunjes were available for comment.
In a much-quoted remark in a March 2016 article, she said that she was not an “opera buff” by the standards of the world in which she now found herself. But, she added, “many of the people who make up our audience today are not ‘opera buffs’, and nor should they be.”
Continue reading the main story