Rosa Solinas has become the latest in a growing line of chief executives at the Ulster Orchestra to resign from the post before serving the full term of their contract.
The former head of music at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) announced her resignation after just 13 months in the post to orchestra players yesterday (5 March) saying that she had ‘achieved everything I’ve set out to achieve’.
Her departure follows a period of considerable change for Northern Ireland’s largest arts organisation which has been struggling with reduced funding, a root-and-branch management restructuring that involved a larger number of voluntary redundancies than was originally called for, and questions about the viability of it remaining in its Ulster Hall home.
A spokesman for the orchestra said that both of Solinas’ predecessors ‒ Edward Smith and Declan McGovern ‒ had been interim appointments and that the decision to leave had been Solinas’ own. She added that it was ‘business as usual’ and that long-standing board chairman Sir George Bain would be standing in as chief executive. A three-month review is to be conducted, at the end of which a decision will be made about Solinas’ replacement.
In January this year the orchestra announced the appointment of Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare as its chief conductor from the 2014/15 season. An announcement is expected this month with further details of the orchestra’s plans for community work, described as ‘an ambitious new programme of community engagement, including plans to introduce the celebrated “El Sistema” programme of social musical education to Northern Ireland’s children’.
Grainne McCann, communications manager with the orchestra’s principal funder, the ACNI, described the resignation as an ‘operational matter’ for the orchestra but that it was ‘aware of the change, is being kept up to date and confident that it is being handled appropriately’.
The resignation, however, has sent waves through Northern Ireland’s arts community with former BBC producer and chief executive of the Ulster Orchestra for ten years David Byers writing on his Facebook page that he was ‘shocked’ at the news.
He added: ‘So history repeats itself another year on. And at what price this time for the UO? All that loss of so many good administrative staff across this past year; loss of box office; loss of subscription … The Board surely has a lot to answer for?’
When she was appointed to the post of chief executive in January 2013, Solinas said: ‘We will have to be innovative and creative in how we manage our future.’
Sir George Bain said at the time that Solinas was chosen from ‘a very strong field of national and international candidates’.