Opera North has announced the appointment of David Collins to the newly created role of executive director/deputy CEO. Collins previously held the post of director of external affairs at the Leeds-based opera company since 2016.

Opera North’s artistic, education and community work has grown over the last five years, and will continue to develop in scope, ambition and diversity, the company said in a statement. The new role reflects and supports this expansion, and will align key areas of audience development, marketing and digital with business and commercial functions including finance, business planning, operations, HR and hospitality.

This new role strengthens the Opera North’s senior leadership team at a crucial moment for the company, as it returns to a full programme of activity following the completion of Music Works, an £18-million redevelopment programme which has transformed the company’s headquarters in the heart of Leeds city centre.

The expanded estate, adjacent to Leeds Grand Theatre, now comprises modern, flexible rehearsal, artistic and administrative facilities, a new entrance and front of house space for the 300-seat Howard Assembly Room, and a new restaurant and bar, due to open in early 2022. The new Bramall Education Studio additionally houses the company’s growing education programme.

“As Opera North returns to a full programme of live performance and begins to realise the potential of our transformed home in Leeds, I’m thrilled to be taking on this role,” Collins commented. “It remains a challenging time as we emerge from the pandemic, but there is also a huge opportunity to learn lessons from the past 18 months of extraordinary change, forging new ways of making and sharing music with people across the north and around the world.”

In his previous role with the company, Collins led the marketing, box office, communications, digital and development teams. Most recently he has overseen the fundraising campaign for Music Works, while leading on Opera North’s growing digital output to find new ways to connect with audiences during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Prior to joining Opera North, Collins was head of marketing at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), working on productions in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, London and on tour nationally and internationally, as well as on the launch of Live from the RSC, the company’s digital offerings, and the transformation of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford. He is also a trustee of Opera Europa, the association of European opera companies, and Pilot Theatre.

Richard Mantle, general director/CEO of Opera North, said: “I am delighted to announce that David has accepted my invitation to be appointed executive director/deputy CEO, building on the significant contribution he has made to Opera North as director of external affairs over the past five years.

“During his tenure he has become a valued colleague and has provided crucial leadership in marketing, revenue generation and fundraising, not least in steering the £18-million Music Works fundraising campaign to transform our estate and operations, while retaining a clear focus on the Company’s engagement with audiences and communities.

“His expanded remit as executive director and deputy CEO will further strengthen Opera North’s senior management team at a time of real renewal and drive for the company, as we embark on our first large scale tour since early 2020, and open our buildings to share an expanded programme of artistic and participation activity with audiences across the north.”

Further changes to Opera North’s senior management team include the appointment of Emily Simpson, previously head of marketing, to the new role of director of audiences, and Richard Ashton, previously general manager of the Howard Assembly Room, as director of operations. The company will also be recruiting for a new director of development.

Opera North announced details of its 2021-22 season earlier this year; tickets for all productions are on sale now.



David Collins has been appointed to the new role of executive director/deputy CEO at Opera North.