Longborough Festival Opera (LFO), an internationally renowned opera company located in the heart of the Cotswolds, was looking for its next dynamic and enthusiastic Executive Director to provide inspirational strategic direction for its work and to promote its vision.

Context.

Championing opera from its 500-seat purpose-built opera house, Longborough Festival Opera has a proud heritage of international renown.

With stunning vistas over the surrounding countryside, the organisation is rooted in the Cotswolds with an artistic and organisational vision that reaches far beyond.

Established in the grounds of the Graham family home in 1991, Longborough Festival Opera has grown into a respected opera company specialising in delivering operas with bold ambition, including Wagnerian opera of world-class standard.

Longborough Festival Opera produces four new productions every year, staging a wealth of operatic gems, ranging from baroque to living composers. Off stage, the charity delivers an ambitious education programme, introducing opera and singing to local schools as well as providing outstanding performance opportunities to its local community. In 2023, LFO worked with over 3,000 students via its outstanding education and outreach programmes.

Ambitious, dedicated to emerging artists and embedded in its local community with a keen eye for the future, LFO was looking to appoint an experienced strategic and operational leader who was passionate about opera as an art form.

Brief.

The next Executive Director at Longborough Festival Opera needed to have proven leadership skills and be proactive, resourceful and hands-on with an eye for new approaches and solutions.

Comfortable with leadership and collaborative, versatile working environments, they needed experience in developing and implementing strategies across an organisation. With a strong track record of leading and managing during a time of change, they would bring experience in financial management, ensuring financial viability and securing voluntary and commercial income.

With outstanding communication skills, they needed to be highly effective in representing LFO at a national and local level. Coupled with highly developed interpersonal skills and effective negotiating abilities, they needed to demonstrate a high level of personal integrity and have a track record of sound diplomacy. Solutions-focused, they would have the ability to conflate and distil ideas to find a way forward.

LFO identified that it needed a highly organised multitasker and self-starter, entirely comfortable with being a representative of the organisation. The search needed to focus on individuals who were curious, interested and engaged with the world of opera. The ideal candidate also needed to demonstrate a personal commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.

Process.

Peridot worked in partnership with the board and executive team at Longborough Festival Opera to create a recruitment campaign that would attract executives from nationally recognised operatic institutions. With global reach and a focus extending outside of the sector, Peridot connected with credible leaders with a passion for opera’s capacity to touch the lives of everyone.

With an excellent track record in stakeholder engagement and an understanding of the role of a ‘co-CEO’, Peridot’s search engaged with over 500 people across the opera community at an executive level.

In its international campaign, Peridot reached out to European, Australasian and American opera organisations, focusing on those who had experience within the British opera scene and were equipped to support Longborough Festival Opera in its next strategic phase.

Outcome.

From 55 applicants, our final shortlist included people with operatic leadership and programming experience in internationally recognised organisations, including:

  • An executive leader from the opera training sector whose employer prepared performers to the highest of standards.
  • An executive specialising in development and fundraising, with an excellent track record of leadership and growth at director level for a wealth of classical music organisations, who had led commercial programming and co-creation.

With an exemplary track record in leading opera organisations through periods of growth, strategic development and change, the appointed candidate was a credible voice in the opera world.

With experience in engaging new audiences, diversifying income and broadening outreach, they had experience in the top tier of opera organisations as well as arts education conservatoires.

With a track record of successfully delivering strategy against a challenging financial climate and a passionate belief in the vision and purpose of LFO, as well as the transformative ability of the arts, this candidate’s values align extremely well with the mission and vision of Longborough Festival Opera.


‘Rebekah led the search for our Executive Director with enthusiasm and energy. She has an excellent understanding of our organisation at strategic and operational levels and brought focus to the description of the role and the experience, skills and personal qualities that we were seeking in our new ED. She provided clear recommendations on where to advertise the role and nurtured those enquiring informally about it, such that 55 applications were received, the majority of which were of good quality.

She took us through a clearly structured process to longlist a group of excellent candidates for first interviews, which she and her colleagues at Peridot conducted, and provided well-balanced summaries of the outcomes of those discussions. Rebekah is strong at driving the recruitment process forward so that it does not lose momentum. She communicates very effectively with candidates, which in turn reflects well on our organisation. She ensured that our panel was well prepared for the interviews we ran and was very helpful in advising us on how to move to a decision.’

Andrew Mosely, Chair


Our dedicated Arts,Heritage and Culture team is available to assist you with the recruitment of your board or executive team. Contact Rebekah Abbott at rebekah@peridotpartners.co.uk or call her on 07538 270749. You can also connect with Rebekah on Linkedin.