John Berry (arts administrator)

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John Edward Berry CBE (born 22 July 1961) is a British-born musician and arts administrator.

Berry graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music in 1983, and subsequently studied with Gervase de Peyer, supported by a scholarship to the Mannes College of Music in New York City. In 1984, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease, and returned to the UK for successful treatment at The Christie Hospital in Manchester, he was unable to continue playing the clarinet professionally after his illness, and redirected his career to arts administration.

Berry served as the founding director of the Sounds Alive Music Centres from 1986 to 1993, he then founded the Brereton International Music Symposium, and served as its director from 1990 to 1997. Other work has included employment as an artist manager at Harrison Parrott (1992–1994), a consultant to The Hallé Orchestra from 1998 to 2002, and as an advisor to several USA opera companies, such as Santa Fe Opera, he was an artistic and broadcasting Consultant (1998–2006) for several video productions of operas, including:

  • BBC Films: Turn of the Screw (directed by Katie Mitchell);
  • Channel 4: Trouble in Tahiti (directed by Tom Cairns), winner of Best Performance Film at the Vienna TV Awards, Gramophone's Best DVD Award and the DVD 'Or de l'Année Award from Diapason magazine in France
  • Channel 4: John Adams' opera The Death of Klinghoffer (directed by Penny Woolcock) winner of the Prix Italia for TV Performing Arts and nominated for the South Bank Show Opera Award.

English National Opera[edit]

In 1995, Berry joined English National Opera (ENO) as casting director, and served in the post from 1995 to 2003, he instigated the first 'Jerwood Young Artists Programme', which later developed into 'The ENO Harewood Artists'. He became Director of Opera Programming in 2003, and subsequently was name ENO's artistic director in November 2005, the last appointment was controversial, as it occurred without either due process or interview.[1] As ENO's artistic director, he brought in artists from outside the opera world into ENO productions, including film directors (Anthony Minghella, Terry Gilliam, Penny Woolcock, Mike Leigh), theatre directors (Rupert Goold, Simon McBurney, Fiona Shaw and Improbable Theatre), visual artists (Matthew Barney, Anish Kapoor) and choreographers (Mark Morris, Michael Keegan Dolan). His co-producing policy extended ENO's reach to more than 40 opera houses around the world, the most prominent being the relationship with the Metropolitan Opera House, New York.[2][3]

Berry expressed skepticism about cinema relays of operas in May 2012;[4] in December 2013, in a reversal of those earlier statements, ENO announced a reversal of course and a new relationship with Altive Media to take ENO's productions into cinemas. Other developments at the company included, in 2014, a new relationship with restaurateur Ben Warner and Benugo for the redevelopment of the Coliseum foyer spaces, and a new commercial relationship with Lord Grade and Michael Linnit (the GradeLinnit Company) to produce semi-staged musicals. [5] The last actions were in response to the 29% reduction in Arts Council England (ACE) funding.[6][7]

Awards won during Berry's tenure include:

  • Double Olivier Award winner in 2015.
  • Royal Philharmonic Society (RPS) for ENO"s Consistently Outstanding Work' 2015 in the Opera and Music Theatre Category
  • 8 Olivier Awards
  • 4 South Bank Show Awards
  • 5 Royal Philharmonic Society Awards
  • Winner of 2014 The Hospital Club 100 in Theatre for the "most innovative and inspirational people working across the creative industries"
  • Evening Standard (2013 / 2014 / 2015) Top 1000 most influential people in London

In February 2015, ACE placed ENO under special measures, this had followed public revelations of disputes between the outgoing chairman of ENO, Martyn Rose, and Berry, with uncorroborated accusations by Rose that Berry had mismanaged finances and lost £10M, and the departure of Henriette Götz as executive director in January 2015.[6][8] ENO countered Rose's accusation by stating that during Berry's tenure, ENO "turned over an unrestricted surplus of £2.4M."[9] In July 2015, following the widely acclaimed 2014-2015 season at ENO, Berry stood down as ENO artistic director with immediate effect, stating "My work is now done".[10][11]

Bolshoi Theatre[edit]

John Berry was appointed creative advisor to the Bolshoi Theatre July 2016.[12]

Opera Ventures[edit]

Launched in March 2017, Opera Ventures is a new, transformational charity founded by John Berry, to produce opera and mixed media performances.[13][14]

The aims of the charity are

• To develop major new opera and mixed media projects in partnership with arts organisations worldwide.

• To work with leading directors and designers to produce exciting contemporary work.

• To reach out to new audiences through an affordable ticketing structure.

• To encourage arts organisations to work together and share resources to create original work.

Artistic Plans[edit]

• In August 2017 Opera Ventures will premiere its first new production, the iconic opera, Greek, by Mark Anthony-Turnage CBE.

• This fully funded production will be co-produced with Scottish Opera, in collaboration with the Edinburgh International Festival, and will tour to Glasgow and to other opera houses and festivals around the world.

• Michelle Wright is the CEO for Opera Ventures, Loretta Tomasi OBE is the Executive Producer and Sally Groves MBE is the Chair. [1]


• Opera Venture's first production was the Opera Greek by Mark-Anthony Turnage. It premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival on the 5 - 6 August 2017. A co-production between Scottish Opera and Opera Ventures, it was directed the Young Vic Artistic Associate Joe Hill-Gibbons and was vastly acclaimed. [2][3][4][5]

Scenario 2[edit]

John Berry and Anthony Lilley OBE, have launched a commercial theatre production company.

Scenario 2 will concentrate on developing new work for the West End stage.

Berry is married to the mezzo-soprano Pippa Dames-Longworth. He was made a CBE in the Queens Birthday Honours in 2014, for Services to Music.[15]


  1. ^ Charlotte Higgins (2006-03-10). "Is this the toughest job in music?". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-04-08. 
  2. ^ Aspden, Peter (2010-02-13). "How the Met and ENO work in tandem". Financial Times. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 2016-03-28. 
  3. ^ Mark Brown (2013-12-12). "English National Opera to broadcast productions live to cinema". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-03-27. 
  4. ^ Matt Trueman (2012-05-10). "English National Opera chief attacks live cinema broadcasts". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-03-27. 
  5. ^ David Lister (2014-04-28). "The London Coliseum: A revolution at the opera". The Independent. Retrieved 2016-03-27. 
  6. ^ a b Mark Brown (2015-02-12). "English National Opera told to improve or face funding axe". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-03-27. 
  7. ^ "ENO is a showcase for talent and innovation". Financial Times. 2015-03-08. ISSN 0307-1766. Retrieved 2015-12-29. 
  8. ^ Anita Singh (2015-02-12). "English National Opera placed in 'special measures'". Telegraph. Retrieved 2016-03-27. 
  9. ^ Mark Brown (2015-01-26). "English National Opera rejects outgoing chairman's claim of losses". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-03-27. 
  10. ^ Imogen Tilden and Maev Kennedy (2015-07-10). "John Berry steps down from English National Opera". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-03-27. 
  11. ^ "John Berry was never going to be content just serving up repertory revivals". The Guardian. 2015-07-10. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-03-28. 
  12. ^ "Top post at Bolshoi for former ENO head John Berry". Retrieved 2017-04-21. 
  13. ^ "John Berry launches not-for-profit opera company - Rhinegold". Rhinegold. Retrieved 2017-04-21. 
  14. ^ "Former ENO boss John Berry launches not-for-profit opera company | News | The Stage". The Stage. 2017-03-20. Retrieved 2017-04-21. 
  15. ^ "Queen's birthday honours list 2014: GCB, DBE and CBE". The Guardian. 2014-06-13. Retrieved 2016-03-27. 

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