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I would appreciate some info on this gentleman.  He came on stage before tonight’s performance and for the life of me,I can’t recall what he said.  What I do remember is that he needed two pages of notes to say it which I thought was a poor show

 

Tonight I was accompanied by a French friend who thought the new extension. Was dull with a capital D.  We ate I. The Balconies Restaurant which was fine, but clocked that the Beige Tank, otherwise known as the Level 5 Restaurant, ( such an appealing name) was pretty empty.  Restaurant tables in the Floral Hall much diminished.  The caterers will not put up with this for much longer.

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I didn't even know it was him, just thought he was an anonymous member of staff!  And, Penelope, it was to thank BP for their support in making the 'big screen' showings available.

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To give him justice, he had a very long list of places where the big screen showings were being held - and if he needed big print on the his notes to see it (don't know how good his eyesight is) it could easily stretch to two pages.  And he did introduce himself at the beginning, just as Kevin O'Hare does.

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Posted (edited)

An arts apparatchik whose relevant experience and transferrable skills were gained working at the Tate where, perhaps, the public persona required is rather different from that required at an opera house with resident opera and ballet companies. Of course in both cases there is a need to be able to generate income and keep the public reasonably happy but in the case of an art gallery those who choose to attend have been socialised and educated to appreciate the artform by family, a teacher or two and even most of the media will pay lip service to the idea that artists like Leonardo, Turner and Picasso matter. Few would dare to question the value of their works except when it comes to raising huge sums to" save a work for the nation".

 

When it comes to opera and ballet the popular view is somewhat different as both are easily portrayed as expensive and elitist , a view which the current pricing policy at Covent Garden does nothing to dispel. In the medium to long term being a blandly efficient bureaucrat with the ability to raise money may not be seen to be quite enough of a skill set for the job. If the Ballet Association meeting is anything to go by his main concern is not to go into the red. As he told the meeting that he was not going to tell Kevin how many dancers he could employ I assume that he applies the same sort of arm's length approach to the opera as well. It will be interesting to see whether there are any repercussions over the opera's inability to shift tickets for popular operas such as Carmen and Boheme which in decent productions sell themselves because everyone has heard of them. The Tate connection suggests that he might value novelty over quality. Only time will tell whether he is the right man for a job which requires a modicum of showmanship and some knowledge, understanding and enthusiasm for the opera and ballet repertory and the companies resident at his theatre. I thought his involvement last night was both embarrassing and unnecessary. 

Edited by FLOSS
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That was my view, Floss.  He may be an excellent financial man but surely such a high profile role needs somebody with some charisma, a degree of showmanship and, definitely, the ability to make a short speech without notes?  He was ‘t Reciting a timetable of train destinations, rather his point was to show that the generosity of a sponsor was allowing ballet to be seen ‘from Portsmouth to Preston.’  On last night’s showing I had little doubt believing that this man had presided over ROH’s beige makeover.  It was a passionless performance.

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1 hour ago, FLOSS said:

An arts apparatchik whose relevant experience and transferrable skills were gained working at the Tate

 

In case anyone has forgotten, before joining ROH Alex Beard spent 19 years with the Tate (having previously worked for the Arts Council for seven years): 

 

www.roh.org.uk/news/alex-beard-announced-as-new-chief-executive-of-royal-opera-house

 

It is open to question - as FLOSS hints - whether those who have spent their formative years working with art that does not need specialist training or skill (true of so much of what has been one of the most successful elements of the Tate offering in recent years) can fully appreciate just exactly what level of dedication over so many years goes into becoming a great ballet dancer, a leading opera singer or indeed a high-grade orchestral musician, many of whom started on their professional journey as toddlers (rhetorical question, what was Damien Hirst doing as a toddler?)

 

There is, I feel, a distinction between the work celebrated at this country's leading opera, dance and music venue - art that can take a lifetime to learn to make and a lifetime properly to appreciate - and what passes for "the arts" industry elsewhere. Whether Alex Beard both appreciates that distinction and understands what necessarily follows from it, in terms of how to lead the companies and treat his audiences, is for him to demonstrate. 

 

He is clearly a good and smart bloke (and as to passion, there is a nice story in the comments after the story linked to above): that is not in question. On the specific point I raise, the jury is still out, imho.

 

 

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Depends how you define smart.  Knowing so little about him as I do it makes it difficult for me to pronounce judgement on aspects other than what he presents to me.  To date I have learned that he is not a good public speaker, lacks what one would term presence and has presided over an expensive construction project that has ill-defined objectives and is of no clearly discernible artistic merit.

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All I can say is that he was very enthusiastic in his applause at the Fonteyn celebration (I was sat in front of him) and he, or his admin assistant, replied within hours when I emailed him about the box office some months back.

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3 hours ago, Lindsay said:

 

I'm a little gobsmacked by this attitude to fine art.  I would recommend this book:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Your-Five-Year-Could-Have/dp/0500290474

 

Lindsay, didn’t mean to smack anyone in the gob: obviously I meant, does not *necessarily* need specialist training or skill, and apologies for not spelling this out. I can promise you (don’t want to name names for fear of diverting the discussion on to private information) there have been artists who have exhibited at the Tate who did not have what anyone (including themselves) would call training and whose work required skill in marketing above all else. That cannot apply to anyone who has performed on the stage or in the pit of the ROH, as these are fundamentally different activities, requiring hours of work every day since childhood, which is the only point I was trying clumsily to make.

 

This does not take away from any artist or movement you like, admire or support - “fine” art or not - it is a simple distinction between what is necessary and what may be optional. Apologies for not having been clearer. 

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23 hours ago, penelopesimpson said:

I would appreciate some info on this gentleman.  He came on stage before tonight’s performance and for the life of me,I can’t recall what he said.  What I do remember is that he needed two pages of notes to say it which I thought was a poor show

 

Tonight I was accompanied by a French friend who thought the new extension. Was dull with a capital D.  We ate I. The Balconies Restaurant which was fine, but clocked that the Beige Tank, otherwise known as the Level 5 Restaurant, ( such an appealing name) was pretty empty.  Restaurant tables in the Floral Hall much diminished.  The caterers will not put up with this for much longer.

 

Have you ever heard of google?  I know you have to get past the Glencore executive of the same name but it doesn’t take a lot of wit to be able to find info about Alex Beard on the internet.

 

What I will say is this.  Beard took time out of his schedule to meet me and explain to me open the Open Up project when I was unconvinced.  A couple of weeks ago, a day after I had signed up to a production syndicate (as a result of a drunken promise to Kevin O’Hare, but that’s another story), he was accompanying some important people of the ballet world down the “back stairs” and stopped to thank me and shake hands.  At the benefactors’ lunch, he walks around talking to people without the need of assistance from the development office, unlike his predecessor.

 

He has a huge interest in opera (from childhood) and, I have no doubt, in ballet too.

 

He knows what he is doing.   And what he is doing is a good job.

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Well, BBB, I think Google may ring a bell in my otherwise witless mind...🙀

 

What I was looking for was personal experience/colour and it is nice of you to provide some.  However, strong interpersonal relations are not enough in a Chief Exec who needs to be able to communicate on a wider level.  I spent some time with John Major once and was bowled over by his charm,  but he was wooden when addressing the masses.

 

You may be satisfied with AB’s justification of Open Up but most of us can only judge on the evidence of our eyes.

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I am not a member of any syndicate and I do not get invited to 'after parties' but Alex Beard will still speak to me if/when I approach him as an ordinary punter. Further evidence of his being a 'good bloke' was when he found himself on the end of a bench in front of me in the 'old Clore' and, rather than asking people to shunt up just as things were about to start, he spent the entire event  perched virtually on one buttock.

 

He heads up a very large and complex organisation and he clearly cannot have a finger on every pulse. But  I've yet to be convinced that the management structure, the high level job specs. and the accountabilities are working to best advantage. And that IS down to him.

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penelopesimpson is Edwina Currie and I claim my five pounds

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Very much what I'm saying, Capybara.  Nobody is saying Mr. Beard is not a nice man - there appears to be quite of lot of evidence that he is a charming and considerate person.  My 'complaint' is with the management process and what I see as failures.

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21 hours ago, penelopesimpson said:

I spent some time with John Major once and was bowled over by his charm,

 

My understanding from albeit a rudimentary grasp of tittle tattle is that Edwina Currie was bowled over on more than one occasion by John Major so I am quite certain penelopesimpson is Penelope Simpson.

 

As regards more substantive matters, I recognise many strengths in Alex Beard but that does not mean that there are not valid criticisms to be made.

 

I like much of Open Up but, as has been argued at length on other threads, there are a number of relatively modest changes that would enhance the project by emphasising the international standing of the Royal Opera House’s product and its raison d'etre.  It is good that the Box Office now has some space in the main building (although in front of what was an interesting display).

 

I am concerned by Alex Beard’s public statements about pricing and that ticket price increases have been kept below inflation and I think the whole Baker Richards consultancy episode was very badly handled.  Again other threads have the detail.

 

I am not impressed that letters are not even acknowledged let alone answered.  Prior to Alex Beard’s attendance at the Ballet Association meeting, I set out what I had discussed with a senior member of his staff in what I thought was a constructive, supportive email.  I am sure he receives a huge volume of correspondence but being in such a high profile position, leading an organisation in receipt of public funds, in my opinion requires a better response.  I think it poor that legitimate questions asked on the website are left unanswered and Alex Beard as Chief Executive needs to ensure that the ROH takes seriously its engagement with audience members.

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