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Just in: Troubled ENO gets Tory crony chairman

Martyn Rose, a British entrepreneur, has accepted the chairmanship of English National Opera. He succeeds Peter Bazalgette, who let the company run £2.5 million into the red on his short watch before swanning off to head Arts Council England. Big Brother producer Bazza was a crony of Tory ex-Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Martyn Rose is a Tory insider, a licensed thinker for the prime minister, David Cameron. Here’s what his company profile says:

In 2007 Martyn was appointed with Michael Gove as co-chair of the National Citizen Service programme for 16 year olds, a key manifesto initiative for David Cameron. He is also senior advisor to the New Schools Network, endorsed as one of key initiatives of the Department of Education. In addition, Martyn has co-chaired with Theresa May the Get Britain Working group with David Freud. In 2009 he co-founded the Big Society Network and remains as Chairman.

What we are witnessing is the political realignment of British arts, the replacement of Labour cronies with Tory clones. Arm’s length? Don’t make me laugh….

martyn rose

Here’s the wretched press release:

Martyn Rose appointed Chairman of English National Opera


Experienced UK business entrepreneur, philanthropist and arts supporter to chair Board  


Martyn Rose, one of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs and business figures, has today been appointed as the chairman of English National Opera, a role he will take up on 1 May 2013.


Commenting on the appointment, Sir Vernon Ellis, President of ENO said, “Martyn Rose has brought his entrepreneurial flair not only to the successful companies he has built but also to the major charities and arts organisations he has chaired.  A common theme has been the creation of a shared vision for the organisation and the drive and inspiration to deliver it.  I am confident that he will provide the Board with the leadership to work alongside the ENO Executive to ensure that ENO will grow, develop and flourish.”


Rose brings to ENO his boardroom leadership skills and management experience drawn from more than 30 years of working in business and the arts. He has been Chairman of a range of companies, both public and privately owned. Rose is currently chairman of DanceEast, the Arts Council England-funded world-class performing arts complex based in Ipswich. He also chairs the Big Society Network, which supports and develops talent, innovation and social enterprise and rewards those who have made a positive contribution to society through the Big Society Awards.


Rose said, “I am honoured to take on the Chairmanship of one of the country’s leading arts institutions and look forward to ensuring that ENO continues to maintain its world-class reputation for distinctive, contemporary and highly theatrical opera. ENO is rightly proud of its commitment to developing both new audiences and the very best British talent and I want to help maintain that tradition so that this renowned institution can continue as a standard-bearer for excellence within the arts world and more broadly for the UK’s creative industries. ENO produces exciting, original and innovative work and is the largest employer of British opera talent. I hope my enthusiasm and commercial experience within the business  and arts world will complement the outstanding artistic achievements of this committed, hard-working and passionate organisation and help further enhance its outstanding reputation and success in the UK and internationally.”


Rose comes to Chair the Board of ENO as the Company continues to deliver award-winning productions and international collaborative partnerships. In 2012, ENO won every available award for opera, including the Olivier Award for ‘the breadth and diversity of the artistic programme’. This year, ENO has been nominated in five Olivier Opera Award categories. Internationally, ENO works with a huge range of co-producers, including the Bayerische Staatsoper, the Netherlands Opera, and New York’s Metropolitan Opera, whose new season will feature two co-productions already premiered at ENO; Two Boys and Eugene Onegin. Rose will take up the post of Chair on 1 May, when ENO announces its 2013-14 season of new work.


CEO of ENO, Loretta Tomasi, said “We are delighted that Martyn is joining us as our Chairman. His passion for ENO’s work, its creativity and international artistic standing, combined with his impressive leadership record and commercial success, will bring the skills, enthusiasm and drive required to this important role.”


Artistic Director of ENO, John Berry, said, “During these exciting and challenging times Martyn’s arrival at ENO is a coup for the Company. ENO’s artistic identity is stronger than ever and we look forward to benefiting from his wealth of business experience to strengthen and grow the Company.”


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  1. Paul Kelly says:

    Norman, you are highly critical of the Arts Council which is the quite well established independent ‘arms-length’ way of supporting the arts. Now when the Government wants to move away from that and come up with a model which is less ‘dependent’ on state subsidy and put some entrepreneurial people in to try and help the arts survive in a different climate and under a different philosophy, you seem to be critical of that. So what funding system do you advocate?

  2. Couldn’t you argue that Lord Hall is equally a government ‘crony’ (albeit cross-bench), having been involved in a variety of government-led projects – just as much a “licensed thinker” when it came to the Cultural Olympiad and so on; yet his appointment at the BBC has been met with widespread applause… Just because someone is well-connected doesn’t make their appointment bad per se, and on the contrary it might even be helpful for ENO to ‘have the ear’ of the hand that feeds it.

  3. The ENO deficit referred to was for the financial year 2011/12. Peter Bazalgette became chairman of ENO in May 2012, after that financial year ended. However much Mr Lebrecht may dislike Bazalgette, to claim he “let the company run £2.5 million into the red on his short watch” is at best disingenuous… Some might choose to use a less polite term to describe this kind of reporting…

    • Go ahead, distort the facts. Bazalgette was on the board for a decade, at times deputising for the chairman. The deficit was most definitely on his watch.

      • I’m distorting the facts?? Pot, kettle, black…
        “He succeeds Peter Bazalgette, who let the company run £2.5 million into the red on his short watch before swanning off to head Arts Council England.”

        No mention of a decade there is there? Any sane person would understand your post to mean that ENO acquired the deficit during Bazalgette’s time as chairman.

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