Meet the Management: Michelle Johnson, Finance Director

MJ-Photo cropped
How long have you been working with the RPO?
For over seven years, and loving it on most days.

Tell us about some highlights of your job.
I am humbled and privileged to be working with a highly skilled and dedicated head office team, supporting our orchestra of incredibly talented musicians. It’s great to be able to see the results of the hard work carried out – both in the office and backstage – culminate in magnificent performances, which are enjoyed by so many.

There are many special moments, especially when someone who has never experienced the amazing sound and spectacular vision of a symphony orchestra before can experience it for the first time, either through RPO Rewards (our new app) or through our inspirational community and education programme (led by RPO resound – our community and education department), which tangibly enhances lives through the power of music.

Describe a typical working day for you.
There is absolutely no such thing as a typical day at the RPO! Work covers a myriad of interesting areas, ranging from the preparation of financial results for each and every concert, recording sessions, community workshops and tours, as well as liaisons with staff, musicians, suppliers, insurers, auditors, lawyers and HMRC on a wide range of issues.

The job relies heavily on communicating with internal and external stakeholders and advisers; not just looking after the Orchestra’s finances and doing the maths, but often carrying out much detective work, which involves investigating and piecing together a complete financial picture that can consist of hundreds of differing items. The sweet moment of the balance sheet balancing is very satisfying indeed. I know this sounds very sad, but it’s true! In the right environment, accounts can be exciting!

Where do you see orchestras and other arts organisations heading, given the current financial climate?
These are very challenging times and it is our duty to ensure that the arts, in particular live performance, continue to thrive and reach out to audiences across a wide range of economic, social and cultural backgrounds, whilst promoting the best of what we do.

How do you relax in your spare time?
Theatre, concerts, spas, singing in my gospel choir and dancing real Cuban salsa – but definitely NOT the showy salsa that they do on TV, and preferably in Havana!!


About Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Acknowledged as one of the UK’s most prestigious orchestras, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) enjoys an international reputation for bringing audiences worldwide first-class performances and the highest possible standards of music-making across a diverse range of musical repertoire. This was the vision of the Orchestra’s flamboyant founder Sir Thomas Beecham, whose legacy is maintained today as the Orchestra thrives under the exceptional direction of its new Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, Maestro Charles Dutoit.
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