Hiring in the Arts & Culture Sector: Through the Lens of the Candidate and Client

In a conversation with MRG’s Matthew Giles, Peter Alesbury, the Director of Estates & Facilities at The Royal Opera House, reflects on being both a candidate and client within the arts sector. They discuss Peter’s passion for working in this field and explore the unique challenges and rewards it offers. Additionally, Peter offers valuable insights and advice on navigating and excelling in arts and culture estates management.

What does your job as Director of Estates & Facilities for The Royal Opera House involve?
The role encompasses strategic leadership and effective management of all Estates and Facilities functions, including Estates Engineering, Facilities, Security, Housekeeping, Capital Projects, and Stage Engineering, across all Royal Opera House properties, including the Grade 1 listed Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, the Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop and Costume Centre in Thurrock, and the Storage Facilities in South Wales.

What attracted you to the Royal Opera House and the Arts & Culture sector?
After a long career working in the NHS and Private Healthcare, I had the amazing opportunity to expand my love of working with Heritage properties at The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. For five great years, I looked after some of the most interesting and challenging listed buildings at two world-leading sites.

The role at the Royal Opera House has been a natural extension of this work and another great opportunity to look after one of London’s landmark properties in Covent Garden, along with the chance to review and develop the shape and future of E&F within the ROH.

Working for an organisation whose facilities and properties are world-renowned and hold heritage status must be extremely rewarding. What do you enjoy most about your role at The Royal Opera House?
Being responsible for the maintenance and preservation of such a historic building surrounded by people with the same goals of producing the World’s best Opera and Ballet.

Added to this is the challenge of maintaining a repertory theater that delivers over 400 world-leading opera and ballet performances each year.

With this role, I have had the opportunity to build and redefine the E&F function and performance.

What advice would you give somebody looking to enter the sector in an estates leadership role?
The sector is truly inspiring, presenting some fantastic challenges in beautiful buildings.

The first step should be a complete look at engineering compliance, understanding the Assets, and identifying some of the unique ways things have been done in the past. I would fully recommend the sector for Estates professionals to join.

What are the key priorities for an estates leader presiding over a heritage & arts venue?
Understand the Asset, compliance, and backlog of the estate. Look to deliver the best solutions, be bold, and challenge past practice.

How was your experience working with MRG?
MRG placed me in a Private Healthcare position as Group Facilities Manager many years ago, a great post in a new and flourishing organisation. Many years later, they placed me at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. This one changed my outlook on my career and has moved me away from healthcare into the wonderful sector that is heritage. My post at ROH was also via MRG, and I have used them to find my new Head of Engineering.

MRG has always been professional and knowledgeable about the sectors in which I have worked.

Thank you, Peter Alesbury, for sharing your unique insights, advice on the arts and culture sector, and experience with us at MRG.

For more information on arts and culture recruitment at MRG, contact Matthew Giles or Nick Coppard.

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