Sir John Tusa - our first Patron

We’re pleased and proud to announce that Sir John Tusa has become the first Patron of Highbury Opera Theatre.


Sir John Tusa has had a wide ranging career in arts administration and in radio and television journalism. He is currently co-chairman of the European Union Youth Orchestra  from 2014 a Trustee of the Turquoise Mountain Foundation and until recently, was chairman of the British Architecture Trust Board, RIBA. He was chair of the  Clore Leadership Programme, (2009-14) Managing Director of the City of London’s Barbican Centre (1995-2007), Managing Director of the BBC World Service (1986-93) and a main presenter of BBC 2's Newsnight programme (1980-86). He has served on the Boards of the National Portrait Gallery, the British Museum, the English National Opera, the Design Museum and Wigmore Hall. He has written extensively on the arts and its importance to society. In his most recent book Pain in the Arts (2014) he addresses the controversies in the arts that must be resolved so urgently today. Previous books include Engaged with the Arts: Writings from the Frontline (2007) and Art Matters (2000).


We asked him a few questions, including one pertinent to our upcoming production of Fever Pitch the Opera.


What was your first experience with music and performance, and what effect did it have on you?


In the late 1940s, immediately after the end of the war, American musicals hit London. I saw “Annie Get your Gun” and “Oklahoma” aged 10. I thought I had never seen anything so exhilarating. I think so today.



Having written and lectured extensively on the arts, do you feel there are qualities that all or most artists have in common?


Very little. But perhaps many are united by a huge capacity for hard work, continuous work, and a refusal to accept easy-seeming solutions.



Why is access to the arts important in modern Britain?


It is a democratic issue, a fairness issue, and what the arts offer is so precious that all should have the chance to share in it. Besides, they are about fun.



Our next production is Fever Pitch the Opera, an original work based on the iconic book by Nick Hornby. Are you a football fan? If so, who do you support?


In youth I was a Hammers fan - my father supplied the team with football boots. Now, I have a very soft spot for Arsenal. At their best they are magical.

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