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The Lebrecht Weekly

 

Visit every week to read Norman Lebrecht's latest column. [Index]


New man at the Bank

By Norman Lebrecht / October 29, 2008


You might be forgiven for thinking that the ailing South Bank Centre has brought in the Government's chief spinner to manage its spiralling problems, but that would be an over-simplification. Alan Bishop, 55, announced last week as chief executive to replace Michael Lynch, is a former M&C Saatchi advertising executive who went on to run the Central Office of Information - a department which has just produced the most cack-handed tax-return campaign in living memory.

Bishop, though, has more taste than presently displayed. At Saatchi's he was the agency's chief enthusiast for classical music after group CEO David Kershaw who, by one of those extraordinary coincidences that make wheels turn in public life, preceded him onto the South Bank Board two months ago.

Bishop will have his work cut out to restore musical confidence and budgetary discipline on the riverside site. The two resident orchestras, London Philharmonic and Philharmonia, are united in their disenchantment with artistic director Jude Kelly. Two smaller bands, London Sinfonietta and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, have taken up secondary residencies at Kings Place. Musical confidence is draining from the South Bank like ex-bankers from the City.

A 16.5 million overspend, which was scandalously wiped out by the Arts Council in May and probably cost Lynch his continuance in office, was attributable in 20 percent to Kelly's programming splashes, among them ill-attended summer musicals that she directs herself.

The new chief must get a grip on Kelly's purse and squeeze at every splurge. It's a tough job and when Bishop talks of wanting to build 'on the triumph of the reopening and the many achievements so far' I hope he knows how much of this is pure waffle.


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Visit every week to read Norman Lebrecht's latest column. [Index]


 

 

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