Oper in Berlin
The "Stiftung Oper in Berlin" (Berlin Opera Foundation) was founded on January 1st 2004, combining the five independent institutions – Deutsche Oper Berlin, Komische Oper Berlin, Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Staatsballett Berlin and "Bühnenservice Berlin" (Stage Services Company) – under one roof. For the five institutions the foundation secures their long-term existence. After years of sometimes paralysing debates the foundation offers - upon the basis of clearly agreed financial terms - the opportunity to again concentrate on artistic work.
Under the umbrella of the new foundation the individual organisations gain greater independence. The three opera houses remain autonomous institutions with their own Artistic Directors – Matthias Schulz, Barrie Kosky, Dietmar Schwarz – and their own budgets. The same applies to the ballet company under the artistic direction of Sasha Waltz and Johannes Öhman. The Stage Services Company, which merges the costume and stage design workshops into one organisation, is also an individual institution under the direction of Rolf D. Suhl. Besides the Head Office, centralised departments for Finance and Accounts and for Human Resources for all companies operate under the roof of the foundation.
The Foundation is a corporate body under public law, integrating the three opera houses, the ballet company and the Stage Services Company as individual organisations under one roof. The Foundation acts as employer for all staff of the five companies and owns all buildings: opera venues, storage depots, administrative office spaces and workshops. The Foundation receives public grants from the Land Berlin and the Federal Government in order to fulfil its tasks. The Land Berlin covers the costs of the maintenance of all buildings and any necessary construction works. The overall grant from the Land Berlin (Federal State of Berlin) for the financial year 2018 is 142.5 million Euros (additionally there is the grant from the Federal Government of 10 million Euros).
The Executive Board of the Foundation consists of ten members: the four Artistic Directors and the five Managing Directors together with the General Manager of the Foundation. The Executive Board has budgetary control of the three opera houses and the ballet company, overviews their programme, scrutinises the economic running of the individual businesses, prepares framework and individual labour agreements and guidelines and is responsible for centralised marketing.
The General Manager plays a crucial role on the board. He is the internal and external representative of the Foundation and as such conducts the business and has the greatest power of authority on the board which cannot take a decision against his veto.
However, the Executive Board and its General Manager have to report back to the Advisory Board, which supervises and advises the Executive Board. The Advisory Board currently has seven members who meet at regular intervals: the Senator for Culture, Klaus Lederer, as Chairman of the Board and the Senator for Finance, Matthias Kollatz, plus four experts for financial and/or artistic matters who are being elected by the parliament of the Land Berlin as well as a representative of the staff council of the Foundation. Until March 2021 board members are Dagmar Reim, former Director-General of public broadcaster RBB, Elisabeth Sobotka, Artistic Director of the Bregenzer Festspiele, Heike Kramer of the German Savings Bank Association and Vera Gäde-Butzlaff, Supervisory Board Chairwoman of the Vivantes Netzwerk für Gesundheit GmbH. The Advisory Board appoints the Artistic Directors, the General Music Directors, the Managing Directors and the General Manager of the Foundation.
Several of the Executive Board’s decisions have to be ratified by this Advisory Board: annual budgets, framework and individual labour agreements as well as the sale of assets and property loans. The Advisory Board decides on a simple majority. Authorisation of annual budgets is subject to veto by both the Chairman and Finance Minister. The Chairman, i.e. the Minister for Cultural Affairs, cannot be overruled on the appointment of the General Manager.
This organisational structure with the General Manager at its top, the Executive Board as decision making body and the Advisory Board as a consulting and controlling body combines great competencies and gives the organisation a solid foundation.