General Director Els van der Plas is leaving Dutch National Opera & Ballet on 1 November. She will become the business manager of the Bonnefanten museum in Maastricht. After eight years with Dutch National Opera & Ballet, in which she completed her key tasks, Van der Plas decided at the beginning of this year to look for a new challenge, and informed the Board of Directors of her decision.
In August 2012, Van der Plas took up the position of General Director with Dutch National Opera & Ballet, where she supervised the merger between Dutch National Opera, Dutch National Ballet and Het Muziektheater Amsterdam. Besides the merger, Van der Plas has experienced many highlights, such as the strong growth in audience numbers and increasing brand awareness at Dutch National Opera & Ballet, the construction and introduction of the Odeonzaal, the renovation of the foyers, the launch of the Dutch National Opera & Ballet Foundation and the development and introduction of the Young Patrons Circle. In collaboration with the University of Amsterdam, she set up the Pierre Audi Chair, thus creating an academic basis for opera as an art form.
“Looking back, I’m incredibly proud of all the fantastic things we’ve achieved together with the artists, singers, dancers, colleagues, supporters, Friends and sponsors”, says Van der Plas. “And I feel really good about the development of the education projects that involve over 20,000 children a year, and about the new, younger and more diverse audience groups we’ve welcomed to our theatre. None of this would have been possible without the undiminished support of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the City of Amsterdam and private funding. I have every confidence in the future of DNO&B. The organisation is rock solid, has a tremendous reputation and is making dynamic preparations for the new reality generated by the corona crisis”.
Her role with the Bonnefanten has fulfilled one of her great career wishes. “Working with an art museum has always been high on my wish list. I’ve been following the Bonnefanten for many years already and I’ve long admired the international and inclusive policy pursued there by Stijn Huijts. It’s exceptional that the museum is so deeply rooted in Maastricht and the region, yet also excels in its exposure at national and international level. So I’m looking forward to joining forces with Stijn Huijts in putting the Bonnefanten even more firmly on the national and international maps”
‘Director with passion and a gift for connecting people’
Jean-François van Boxmeer and Tom de Swaan, chairs of the Board of Directors and the Dutch National Opera & Ballet Foundation, call Van der Plas a “director with passion and a gift for connecting people” and have great admiration for what Van der Plas has achieved for Dutch National Opera & Ballet. “She was there at the start of what Dutch National Opera & Ballet has become today, has achieved huge growth in commercial funding and has been at the forefront of attracting more young visitors to opera and ballet performances. She has also used her knowledge of the arts in modernising the organisation”.
Until her departure at the end of October, Van der Plas will continue to work full out for Dutch National Opera & Ballet, with the top priority of completing the renewed application for government subsidy. Along with her colleagues, she is working on getting Dutch National Opera & Ballet in magnificent form for its return to the spotlights, both during and after the corona crisis.
The process of looking for her successor is underway.