Leonora Thomson joined Welsh National Opera as Managing Director in December 2015, and leads the business side of the organisation. This involves strategic and operational planning, human resources issues, finance and stakeholder relations among other things – everything that sits behind the production process and secures the future sustainability of the organisation. Prior to this she was Director of Audiences and Development at the Barbican Centre, part of the City of London Corporation. She started at the Barbican in 2008 and led on the organisation’s relationship with its audiences through marketing and communications, front of house and box office, development and digital strategy; latterly she undertook a strategic planning process for the Centre.
From 2007 to 2008 she joined the Metropolitan Police Service as manager of Ealing’s Extended Police Family – Community Support Officers, Volunteers, Special Constables and Cadets.
In the 1990s she worked in international press and promotion for EMI Classics, then joined the BBC to run press and publicity for the BBC Proms and Radio 3, going on to work as a Strategic Communications Adviser to BBC senior management on corporate issues.
From 1998 to 2006 she also served as a local councillor for the London Borough of Ealing, providing the political leadership for education and children’s social services, ending up as Deputy Leader then Leader of the Council. During that period she undertook a lot of consultancy, mentoring and training work for the Improvement & Development Agency, now part of the Local Government Association.
She has held several board positions; from 2008 to 2014 she was a board member at the Association of British Orchestra and also served on the board of the Mercury Theatre, Colchester. She is currently a board member of the National Campaign for the Arts.
She grew up in North Yorkshire, where her musician and teacher parents inspired her love of opera, and studied Philosophy at Leeds University