Opera Holland Park today makes the transition to an independent charity after nearly twenty years as a department of The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Opera Holland Park launched in 1996 with its inaugural production of Un ballo in maschera and since then has developed a strong reputation for presenting a varied and challenging programme including rare, late Italian repertoire.
The company will continue in its current venue and crucially, will maintain the distinctive ideals upon which it was founded:
- To provide a spectacular destination festival developing a strong financial model that enables us to consolidate and grow our audience and to create first class opera
- Opera Holland Park will bring the world of opera and the classical arts to as wide an audience as possible including the economically disadvantaged and from all social backgrounds
- We will continue to provide opportunities, via accessible pricing and our Inspire project, for all members of society of any age – from the very young to the elderly – social or economic background to be enriched by opera
- To generate a new ‘family’ of supporters and friends who will engage with the company to both support it financially and to disseminate and promote our aims
- To offer opportunities to emergent talent, both on stage and in other artistic or technical roles.
We have created an FAQ section here which provides answers to many of the questions you may have. Alternatively, you can write to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have further enquiries.
Why is OHP becoming independent?
The Royal Borough has done a remarkable thing in creating and maintaining an accessible opera company of this standard for so long, but it has to find ways to ensure our future without jeopardising other critical services. This solution was the one that suited both parties best. It is also worth noting that the management of OHP has for some time sought a solution like this because we believe it will offer us the flexibility, freedom to plan and plurality of funding that we have not been able to take advantage of within the confines of Council procedure and public funding. We will continue to have a very close relationship with the Council since we occupy their land and have certain partnerships within the sphere of Inspire..
Will you continue with the Inspire project?
Most certainly, which includes all of the work we do in the community with hospitals, schools, care homes and our groundbreaking dementia project with Playlist for Life. The Free tickets schemes will continue as will the Inspire tickets priced at £17 this year.
Will OHP continue to perform in its current home?
Yes, the company has agreed a 25 year lease on the site in Holland Park. We will also be staying in our offices in Kensington.
What is the funding situation?
OHP will receive a package of cash and facilities from the Royal Borough worth £5 million. OHP has operated on a remarkably lean budget for many years; we produce opera in a very efficient way and our average subsidy of around £450k per year is small in comparison to many other companies. The grant effectively means that in the medium term, we can invest in the sort of business disciplines that we have not been able to, and to generate our own funds. Further, we have been encouraged by a significant upsurge in pledges to our new Founders Fund, something we always believed would be the case since donors tend to have a different attitude towards funding an independent charitable entity rather than Council initiatives. Our independence has provided the confidence to support us.
Will the principles of OHP change? What about ticket prices?
No. OHP fully intends intends to continue to provide accessibly priced opera. This is also enshrined in our agreements with the Council. Indeed, last year, and continuing in 2016, many of our prices are either the same or reduced and this remains a central part of our strategy.
OHP will also retain the informality that patrons enjoy.
We will maintain our commitment to the sort of repertoire for which we have become known and our season will run from June to August as it does now.
I am a Friend of OHP, will I notice anything different?
You shouldn’t, beyond, we hope, seeing some improvements in services, benefits and the ways in which we communicate with you. Indeed, over the next month or so, you should be hearing about earlier booking dates and other changes that we think you will welcome. Neither will you have to change any of your details or Direct Debits should you have them in place with us.
What is the governance of the company?
The company is a charity and has a board of trustees.
Charles Mackay. Chairman. International business career in commercial, industrial and service companies. Recently retired as Chairman of Historic Royal Palaces after nine years as Chairman.
Fiona Campbell. A long serving OHP Friends Trustee and who will become OHP’s Company Secretary. A Solicitor with own general commercial practice in Notting Hill area.
Anupam Ganguli. To be Chairman of the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee. Finance Director of Royal Museums Greenwich, and previously of the Arts Council and the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Jessica Hepburn. Shortly stepping down after nine years as Executive Director and Joint CEO of the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith. Joined the Lyric in 2001 as Head of Development and then Director of Communications before becoming Executive Director and Joint CEO in 2006.
Martin Kramer. Long serving Trustee of OHP Friends. Retired solicitor specialising in media.
Dr Martin Lockett. Currently Dean of Academic Development at Ashridge Business School and Global Dean of Hult International Business School, after a significant career in digital, systems and technology development in both management and consultancy roles
Sir Trevor McDonald. Renowned ITV News at Ten anchor, TV presenter and journalist.
Will the staff remain?
OHP will continue to be managed by Michael Volpe and James Clutton and all of the various staff, including the Friends team will continue in their roles.