State Opera of South Australia Artistic Director and CEO Timothy Sexton has resigned from the company, citing personal reasons. Sexton, whose association with the company as a singer, chorus master and conductor spanned 20 years before he took the reins as AD and chief executive in 2011, stood down suddenly on Friday, The Advertiser reported.
SOSA chairman John Irving has taken over the executive role as an interim arrangement and the company has reportedly sought assistance from the Australia Council for the Arts to bring forward a planned review of operations before appointing a replacement.
Sexton apparently spoke with Irving ahead of his departure. “Tim approached me last week and advised that for personal reasons he was going to resign. I spoke with him at length and agreed with him that was the appropriate course,” Irving told Limelight. “Tim’s issues are personal and not related to the company. I will step in on a part time basis to support the staff and it will otherwise be business as usual. The Company’s balance sheet is strong and we anticipate finishing the current financial year around the break even mark.”
“The program for 2018 is well developed and will be finalised over the next few months. We are looking forward to getting our programme out to subscribers earlier than usual this year,” he said. “The review of the Company’s management structure scheduled for the second half of the year will be accelerated and its outcome will inform the Board when looking for Tim’s replacement.”
“[Sexton] has not told me any details,” Irving told The Australian. “He had some personal issues that he needed to deal with. I spoke to Tim last week and supported his view that he needed time away from the company.”
While Irving will be acting in an executive role at SOSA, The Australian reported, he will not be making artistic decisions but consulting Sexton and other experts as required. “Tim and I had already spoken at length and the board had discussed and agreed, in fact, that we would undertake a review of our management structure,” Irving told The Advertiser. “Not because anyone was dissatisfied with it, but it’s always an appropriate thing when a new chair comes in to have a look at those things.”
Last year’s National Opera Review highlighted a number of areas relating to SOSA’s struction. “SOSA’s [overheads] are arguably too low at around $1 million, with minimal staffing levels compared to the other companies,” the report said. “SOSA needs to invest to provide a more sustainable infrastructure base and to strengthen its marketing capability so as to generate additional income.”
Irving stressed that the upcoming review of SOSA’s management structure was entirely unconnected to Sexton’s leaving. “But it is going to be a useful coincidence,” he told The Advertiser, “that will give us a strong direction to take the company in, in terms of how we structure the management group.”