Introducing Alex Reedijk from Citizens Theatre and Scottish Opera

Alex has a long and rich history contributing to the arts sector in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand, working with several major arts festivals and opera companies, including Scottish Opera, Wexford Festival Opera, Opera Ireland, New Zealand Opera and New Zealand International Festival of the Arts.

In 2006, he became the General Director of Scottish Opera. In November 2011, Alex was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, became Vice-Chair of Citizens Theatre in 2018 and Chair of The Beacon Arts Centre in Greenock in 2019.

Since Alex joined Scottish Opera, the company has flourished, bringing opera performances to over 45 Scottish communities every year, as well as encouraging new initiatives for young people and those with dementia.

In 2023, Alex was anointed with a World Class New Zealander award.

In the first instalment of our Arts, Heritage and Culture ‘conversations with’ series, Rebekah Abbott sat down with Alex to reflect on his experience of working with us as a search partner recruiting for both Scottish Opera and Citizens Theatre.

Watch the full interview with Alex here.

What challenges did you encounter in appointing non-executives for Scottish Opera and Citizens Theatre?

The story starts with Scottish Opera.

We hit a moment where we had an unusually high number of trustees departing and the Chair and I spent some time reflecting on what we felt the next iteration of the board should look like — diversity, in particular, would need to play an important part.

Our own traditional methodology of working our phone books was outmoded and outdated. We had a great reference about Peridot from the National Theatre of Scotland; Liz Holderness did a terrific job of presenting us with an excellent pool of candidates. We were able to appoint four trustees who have all gone onto be amazing as they’ve landed into their roles around the board table.

What made you decide to go with Peridot as a recruitment partner?

As Vice-Chair of the Citizens Theatre, it fell on me to lead the Nominations Committee in a search for a new Chair — given that April Chamberlain, a fantastic Chair, had signalled her desire to retire. I thought that we should think long and hard about what our methodology could be as we needed to move on from the old ‘friends of friends’ model.

We had a great experience with Peridot through Scottish Opera, with high quality candidates and a straightforward search process. Given how you gained an understanding of what Scottish Opera needed, I felt Peridot was exactly the right search company to help us find a new Chair for the Citizens Theatre.

It’s a duality at the moment, with both completing a capital project and setting the vision for the Citizens Theatre as it returns to its new home. It was important that we cast our net really wide to make sure we found exactly the right person to help lead the business going forward. Once again, Peridot brought forward a very interesting pool of candidates for us to consider and ultimately, we’re hoping to bring one candidate forward for appointment.

I believe it’s important to use a search partner like Peridot as we come out of Covid, as the number of individuals willing to serve in voluntary roles for charities is quite small, but the need for these people has never been greater. By using a search partner, you absolutely improve the odds of success.

What would you want to tell people about the experience of working with us?

I would say it’s been terrific. I received timely responses to my questions, and Peridot took the time to really understand the needs of the business and the decision-makers to ensure that the brief was as finely honed as possible.

I liked that you spoke to both management and other trustees to ensure that you had a clear picture of the needs of Citizens Theatre and Scottish Opera. I love that kind of breadth of thinking, quality of interrogation and willingness to go above and beyond. I felt that created a proper human connection between client and service provider.

It’s important to remember that we’re all dealing with human beings. As an organisation, we value respectful communication and feel that any candidates that are spoken to on our behalf should be treated in a respectful fashion. I think Peridot do that incredibly well.

What factors made you assured you’d made the right decision in choosing us?

Especially now, a year on from the appointment of the four new candidates to the Scottish Opera board, I can see all of their qualities really coming out. Seeing them flourish as trustees shows that we made a really good decision choosing Peridot.

We all know it can take a bit of time for new trustees to settle in and to find their feet in terms of how they can operate and contribute usefully. The other day I was reflecting back to the Chair that one trustee, in particular, had been a bit slow to find his place but has become the most amazing asset to our finance and general purposes committee.

That’s a reflection of the fact that this particular trustee would never have considered himself suitable or available for the board of Scottish Opera and yet here he is now maintaining an important role and wearing various different hats, including diversity. I think that’s a terrific outcome, and that’s when I realised that that was the subtle cleverness of Peridot at work.


Learn more about the Citizens Theatre capital campaign.

Rebekah Abbott is our Head of Arts, Heritage and Culture Appointments. With over 20 years’ experience in the sector, including having founded her own music-based not for profit, Luminosa Music, Rebekah has a first-hand understanding of the importance that having the right leaders in the right roles at the right time, can have on the success of an organisation.

If you would like to volunteer your time on a trustee board, fill out your details on our Become a Trustee page.

If you need help recruiting talented and motivated people to your arts, heritage or culture board, please email Rebekah Abbott, or connect with her on LinkedIn.