Landmark theatre appoints chief to spearhead revival

CORK Opera House has appointed a new chief executive to spearhead its revival.

Mary Hickson, who has been working for the last 10 years as a senior arts administrator, programmer and director, spent her first day in the office yesterday.

She is due to meet the Arts Council – one of the theatre’s largest sources of funding – in Dublin on Thursday.

The Arts Council, which is due to meet in Cork’s City Hall this evening, has contributed some €1,124,000 in grant aid to the 1,000-seat venue since 2005.

Despite this, there has been sustained criticism from members of Cork City Council – which owns 39% of the venue – over the level of state-funded support for the landmark theatre, which was forced to close for three months this summer for financial reasons.

It has since reopened following a major cost-restructuring programme and strategic review.

Chairman of the theatre’s board of management, Damien Wallace, confirmed Ms Hickson’s appointment yesterday.

“On behalf of the board and staff, we wish to sincerely welcome Mary to the organisation,” he said. “We are extremely pleased to secure somebody of her calibre to fill the position and look forward to her positive contribution in leading Cork’s premiere cultural institution and in implementing the recently drafted strategic plan which will secure the financial viability of the company into the future.”

After studying music in UCC and completing a Masters in UL, Ms Hickson was part of the original management team for the Festival of World Cultures in Dun Laoghaire, before moving to become director and manager of the O’Reilly Theatre in Dublin.

She has managed the Crash Ensemble, and retains a position on their board of directors.

She has been teaching and engaged in other projects with the UCC Music Department, including the management of a delegation of 20 musicians to the World Expo in Shanghai with funding and collaboration from UCC, Cork City Council and Culture Ireland.

Her recent projects also include working on the FUAM programme for UCC Music Department, music producer of From the Sources, managing and playing in TRASNA, artistic adviser for Music Network, Deis Panelist for the Arts Council, and various collaborations with Cork City Council and Culture Ireland.


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