Alex Beard to become chief executive of Royal Opera House

Deputy director of Tate to take over at Covent Garden

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Alex Beard, deputy director of Tate, is to take over as chief executive at the Royal Opera House.

He will succeed Tony Hall who becomes director general of the BBC in April.

Beard has been at Tate since 1994 and has held the position of deputy director since 2002. Beard has also been on the board of Glyndebourne since 2008 and was recently awarded CBE for services to the arts. He is also an amateur cellist.  

‘I’m absolutely delighted to have been appointed chief executive of the Royal Opera House,’ he said in a statement. ‘I’m very proud to be joining a world class team led by Antonio Pappano, Kasper Holten and Kevin O’Hare, together with a superb executive and committed staff across the organisation’. 

Beard, aged 49, has never worked in the performing arts so this is something of a surprise appointment. However, he is credited with playing an important role in the opening of Tate Modern and has overseen all the business operations of the Tate galleries since 2000.

In an interview with The Guardian, Sir Nicholas Serota, director of Tate, said: ‘He helped create Tate Modern, and he has been hugely important in the Tate’s business development. To the Royal Opera House he will bring imagination, competence and an understanding of what it means to work with artistic directors. I think he will be a great chief executive.’

Beard will be paid £250,000 per year, a lower salary than his predecessor Hall, who took home a total of £392,361 in the financial year 2011-12. 

Simon Robey, chairman of the board of trustees at the Royal Opera House, said: ‘Alex Beard has a passion for the work we do at the Royal Opera House. I am confident he will forge excellent partnerships with our artistic leadership and executive team and together, lead the Opera House to still greater heights’.

Although no official start date has been announced, Beard will take up his post in time for the start of the 2013 season in September. Covent Garden's finance director, Sally O’Neill, will act as chief executive in the interim.

Rachel Lily