22 Jun 2018

Royal New Zealand Ballet director Frances Turner resigns

From Upbeat, 3:29 pm on 22 June 2018

Executive Director Frances Turner has resigned from the Royal New Zealand Ballet and will leave the company in September.

Board Chair Steven Fyfe has announced that Frances has decided to return to Auckland after two and a half years being away from her family while she ran the national ballet company from Wellington.

Executive Director Frances Turner for the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

Executive Director Frances Turner for the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Photo: Stephen A'Court Photography

The Board accepted Frances’s decision with regret but says it understands that family comes first.

It’s been a case of revolving doors at the head of the RNZB over the last few years with the resignation of former Artistic Director Francesco Ventriglia before his term had expired and the loss of many other key ballet company members including sixteen dancers.

RNZB Artistic Director Francesco Ventriglia

RNZB Artistic Director Francesco Ventriglia Photo: Stephen A 'Court

In 2017 the Company faced complaints of historic workplace bullying from several former dancers with the new Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Jacinda Ardern asking for an explanation from the Ministry.

Questions were also asked about the direction the company was taking under new Artistic Director Patricia Barker with a decreasing number of New Zealand trained dancers employed by the company. 

Patricia Barker for the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

Patricia Barker for the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Photo: ©Stephen A'Court Photography

Deputy State Services Commissioner Doug Craig conducted a review which cleared the RNZB of wrong doing but made eleven recommendations of where improvements were needed in dealing with staff complaints. 

Board Chairman Steven Fyfe has acknowledged Frances Turner’s contribution to the RNZB during a period of transition and says she has “engineered a lot of positive change during her time at the RNZB during challenging circumstances.”

No caption

Photo: RNZB / Stephen A'Court

Frances Turner said she is proud of the company’s achievements over the last two years, in deepening its connections with New Zealand audiences.

She made particular mention of the significant expansion of the RNZB education programme, including working in prisons, offering audio-described performances for the blind and visually impaired, and growing its younger audience from low decile schools.