English National Opera (ENO) is pleased to announce that Jessica Pulay is joining the ENO Board of Trustees with immediate effect.
Jessica Pulay has been Co-Head of Policy and Markets, and an executive member of the Managing Board, of the UK Debt Management Office since 2015. She has responsibility for the UK government’s debt issuance and cash management, as well as leading the policy, research and business operations areas.
Jessica has more than 30 years’ finance experience in both the public and private sectors, specialising in government and supranational financing. Prior to her current role, she spent 16 years at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in London where she was Deputy Head of Funding, responsible for the EBRD’s financing programme. Before joining the EBRD, Jessica spent a number of years working in investment banking, including as an executive director at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, and a managing director at Deutsche Bank.
Jessica’s commitment to the arts and education includes eight years as a Trustee of the Wallace Collection, as well as serving on the board of the Arts Foundation and the committee of the Cliveden Literary Festival. For many years she served as Vice Chairman of the governing council of a London school. Following her experience in the 2004 Asian tsunami, Jessica helped establish the Rewatha Orphanage in Sri Lanka. She is also a Board member of the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm).
Commenting on the appointment, ENO Chair, Dr Harry Brunjes says, “All at ENO are looking forward to Jessica Pulay joining the Board. Jessica’s impressive career in the finance sector will be invaluable, let alone her experience as a trustee in the arts sector for eight years. Equally important is Jessica’s great enthusiasm for opera and, indeed, she is a long-standing supporter of ENO”.
Jessica Pulay commented, “I am delighted, and feel immensely privileged, to be joining the ENO Board, not least given the ENO’s mission to make this great art form more accessible to a wider audience.”
Notes to Editors:
English National Opera is the national opera company dedicated to one simple aim: making opera for everyone. We sing in English to be accessible to the widest possible audience, as well as offering free tickets for Under 18’s and for as little as ten pounds for everyone else. We create opera that feels different, theatrical and creatively daring and have been doing this to an internationally recognised standard since being founded in 1931 as Sadler’s Wells Opera.
We are determined to open up the genre: nearly half of our audiences in the 2018/29 season were first-time bookers and more than 10% of our bookings were by under 30s. Our learning and participation programme ENO Baylis reaches more than 20,000 school children and community groups, and we bring opera into schools, allowing more than 5,000 schoolchildren to experience opera for the first time.
Giving new talent a platform and showcasing the wealth of nationwide operatic talent is fundamental to the ENO’s vision. Our talent development programmes continue to nurture the careers of singers (the ENO Harewood Artist programme), of conductors (the Charles Mackerras Fellowship) and of musicians (ENO Evolve). Demonstrating our ongoing support and development of British talent, 85% of the cast in the 2018-19 season were British or British trained, up 5% from the previous season.
Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, the proportion of our ethnically diverse audience increased from 4% to 10%. 20% of ENO’s principal freelance performers in our last season were people who are ethnically diverse and we are committed to ensuring this level of representation on stage is maintained whenever possible. 13% of our Chorus is similarly represented and 16% of our Board – to be transparent, that is two out of 12 people. In 2019, we announced an ongoing commitment to increasing representation within our Chorus and Orchestra, hiring four new members of the former in order to do so, and starting the process of hiring five new string players from ethnically diverse backgrounds. Similarly, we offer paid Director Observerships every year to those who are currently underrepresented in our industry. We are committed to making the opera industry more inclusive and representative of the society in which we live which stretches across our organisation including the ENO Board and Management. This also means that we are committed to telling a wider range of stories both on and off stage. In summer 2020 we commissioned ‘What do you hope for?’ – a series of short films, featuring world-class operatic artists responding to the Black Lives Matter movement.
In 2020, despite the challenges presented by the global pandemic, ENO remained committed to its remit as a national arts organisation and dedicated to bringing world-class opera to everyone.
We immediately announced we would be honouring the contracts for those brought on board for productions that had to be cancelled, setting the precedent that many other arts companies subsequently followed. We are proud to support our talented freelancers who work tirelessly to bring the magic of ENO to the stage.
One of the most amazing contributions ENO employees made over the lockdown is down to our phenomenal costume department. Moving away from the captivating costumes of the 2019/20 Season operas, the team dedicated themselves to sewing scrubs and producing PPE for London hospitals facing shortages. Raising a remarkable £26,000, the team produced 1,700 pairs of scrubs, 500 hats and 1,000 visors and donated the remaining money to NHS charities.
We partnered with Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust to develop a social prescribing intervention that will provide crucial support to people recovering from COVID-19, in the first partnership of its kind between a leading arts organisation and an NHS Trust. Led by ENO Baylis, our learning and participation programme, this holistic online programme – ENO Breathe – brings together medical and musical expertise and will provide novel ways to support and empower those recovering from COVID-19, offering tools for self-management, particularly with regards to posture, breath and anxiety.
ENO Drive & Live, the world’s first large scale drive-in opera wowed audiences in September, marking the first time the company performed together in person since March. Held in the grounds of London’s Alexandra Palace and based on a huge festival-sized stage, the performances of Puccini’s La bohème were rehearsed and performed by two casts and crews in separate bubbles, whilst audiences enjoyed the spectacle from the safety of their vehicles. Additionally, a recorded version of one of the casts aired on Sky Arts, broadcasting Puccini’s magnum opus to the nation.
Returning from the country’s first lockdown, we wanted to perform a work that resonated with our scattered audience, as well as our talented artists and musicians. Despite an impending second lockdown, English National Opera convened to perform Mozart’s Requiem on the London Coliseum stage. Despite no live audience due to restrictions, the poignant requiem was warmly received when it broadcasted on BBC Two, accomplishing what we set out to do – take a moment of remembrance in a time of chaos.
During the summer, we invited young people to submit personal expressions of their lockdown experience, and to help us create a ‘lockdown aria’. We received 50 submissions across several art forms, including music, painting, photography, poetry and more. This culminated in an online exhibition in partnership with Google Arts & Culture and Arts Council England, showcasing and celebrating our participants’ creativity. We commissioned spoken word artist Kieron Rennie to write a new piece weaving the voices of our participants’ voices together.
Simultaneously, we continued to amuse our audiences through social media content created by our brilliant singers and musicians as far ranging as a Gilbert and Sullivan tribute to our NHS and a collaboration with Matt Lucas on his smash-hit record Baked Potato.
ENO is for everyone, and always will be.