La Scala criticised over plan to make Saudi minister board member


The prestigious opera house La Scala in Milan has become embroiled in offstage drama of its own, with its boss under fire over negotiations to the Saudi Arabia culture minister, Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al Saud, become a member of the board. Alexander Pereira, the Austrian CEO and artistic director credited for bringing in more sponsors and creating a healthier balance sheet since his appointment in 2014, said the new board member would bring in an additional €15m (£12.8m) over the next five years.

Pereira said that the money would either be paid by a Saudi individual or come via a private company or bank. “It’s a great opportunity,” Pereira said. “I’ve discussed it with Giuseppe Sala [the mayor of Milan] and Alberto Bonisoli [Italy’s culture minister], who has met his counterpart. Such economic opportunities don’t come by every day.”

But his negotiations have been described as “unscrupulous” by some board members, who called for the Italian government to intervene in the “complex and delicate” issue. “The [negotiations] are an entirely personal initiative,” the members were quoted in the daily Corriere della Sera as saying. “At this moment Saudi Arabia does not stand out for its democratic balances.”(theguardian)…[+]