wed 29/06/2022

Who earns £630,000 at the Royal Opera House? | reviews, news & interviews

Who earns £630,000 at the Royal Opera House?

Who earns £630,000 at the Royal Opera House?

Covent Garden report reveals top salaries way above Southbank Centre or National Theatre chiefs

As arts cuts announced today start to bite, few people are aware that the Royal Opera House pays its two top people more than £630,000 and nearly £400,000 each. Although Covent Garden is refusing to identify them, it is likely that they are chief executive Lord Hall and music director Antonio Pappano. But they are not likely to have to sacrifice their earnings even while smaller arts organisations fold.

The salaries are revealed in Covent Garden’s most recent financial report for 2009. Recently in the news for its attempts to wrest lifetime copyright from creative artists whom it commissions, the ROH is expected to come out of the cuts with minimum damage due to its status as a cultural icon and its prestige abroad which lubricates diplomatic and commercial relations.

But when other more creative arts organisations are facing the axe altogether, the sheer size and generosity of Covent Garden pay makes extraordinary reading.

Far below Covent Garden’s top salaries come the heads of the Arts Council and the Southbank Centre at £190,000, the National Theatre at £170,000 and English National Opera at £140,000.

It is reported in the ROH financial report that some 76 staff earn over £60,000, in a total payroll of £45.3 million for 951 employees.

Of these, 14 earn more than £100,000 p/a including a third high salary of £180,000. It is likely that Royal Ballet director Monica Mason, creative director Deborah Bull and the influential and longtime opera casting director, Peter Katona, will be well rewarded.

The Royal Opera House can argue that its £28 million grant is less than a third of its near-£100 million operating budget, and is therefore likely to be in a strong position to protect its salaries. However, the Arts Council - with a similar-sized payroll - is facing a 50 per cent cut in administration costs, which are likely to involve jobs.

The Arts Council itself has 71 people earning £60,000-110,000, with two executives over: Alan Davey, its CEO on a £191,000 package (incuding pension contributions) and  Althea Efunshile (Chief Operating Officer) earning £157,000 Including pension contributions).

The recent select committee of MPs criticised Davey for a £2.5million overspend on its last management restructing budget. In the accounts appear large redundancy settlements for five regional directors, averaging £100,000, with a Northern director receiving £279,000 including his payoff.

The ACE administration budget of £22 million is about five per cent of the grant it hands out, and inevitably the 50% reduction demanded will result in yet more high redundancy payouts as well the end to some arts organisations dependent on those people.

In comparison the Southbank Centre - whose grant is £21 million, but which has far less outside patronage than the ROH - has 14 staff over £60,000.

Another surprise is Birmingham Royal Ballet, whose generous number of staff earning over £60,000 is partly due to the necessary numbers for the ballet company and historical factors from its move from London a decade ago. However its two top salaried executives earn only £110,000.

Orchestral salaries come well below, with the London Symphony Orchestra paying just three people over £60,000 - top executive at £150,000 - and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra only one, their chief at £90,000.

The Arts Council itself provides a model of open reporting on its annual report for 2010 which also lists names for monies received for those on the Directors’ Table.

Their clients prefer to keep such information more anonymous. A spokesman for the Royal Opera House declined to furnish any names saying only “that it is worth noting that this does include some artists as well as administrative, production, and technical positions”.

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NIce article and good to see this information pushed into discussion. It'd be great to see similar figures for similar national organisations in Scotland. One question that has been raised since I Tweeted this story earlier today: why do you not name the author of this article? I think I'm correct in saying that other articles like this are also published without the name of the author.

The Arts Council is indeed a model of open reporting, but the annual report you provide a link to contradicts your assertion that “its top salaries are no more than £110,000 - with eight people on that level”. Rather it tells us that in the year ended 31 March 2010, its chief executive Alan Davey's remuneration was £191,000 (as against £175,000 the preceding year, 08/09, so quite a hefty raise in a recession), COO Althea Efunshile's was£157,000 and a further four staff were on more than £115,000.

There was a time when it was an honour and a privilege to work in the arts for the good of the community as a whole. We now seem to have a new bread of directors and chief executives, many of whom come from outside the arts world, who see it as a way of making a name for themselves, achieving public recognition and taking more out of the 'public purse' than they really do deserve. Perhaps with the forthcoming cuts arts boards will come to realize that these people will work for far less- if forced to, which will have the effect of bringing much more dedication to the job.I was never paid a penance -just sightly more than that, but I was happy in the knowledge that I was playing some part in introducing the public to the arts. It was worth it!

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