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Opera North appoints Minhaz Abedin to Board of Trustees

We’re delighted to announce the appointment of our youngest ever Trustee, the Leeds-born charity CEO Minhaz Abedin.

Minhaz’s passionate advocacy for the visibility of young people began at the age of 11, when he lobbied his MP for improved youth service funding in Leeds. He went on to be elected a Member of the UK Youth Parliament at 13, spoke in the House of Commons three times, and addressed the United Nations General Assembly as the UK’s Youth Delegate.

In 2019, less than a year after his graduation from university, Minhaz was appointed as the CEO of Future Talent by HRH The Duchess of Kent. Founded by the Duchess, the royal charity is dedicated to creating opportunities for gifted young musicians from low-income backgrounds across the UK. Inspired by his upbringing in the east Leeds suburb of Harehills, where his parents hosted concerts that brought the community together, Minhaz oversaw remarkable growth in Future Talent’s impact and profile before moving onto its Advisory Board earlier this year.

Minhaz recently took up the position of Executive Director at Heroic Goals, a global charity founded by creatives to work towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals through small acts accomplished by millions of people. He is also Marketing Director of WeAreTheCity, a 140,000-strong network that has supported women’s careers since 2008.

One of the largest arts organisations outside London, Opera North’s work extends far beyond its award-winning mainstage operas. From its newly redeveloped base in central Leeds, the Company programmes gigs, films, talks and family events in the Howard Assembly Room; the Kirklees Concert Season brings orchestral and chamber performances to Huddersfield and Dewsbury; and transformative Education and Community Partnership programmes bring life-affirming music and art to thousands more.

In 2018, Opera North became the first opera company in the UK to be awarded Theatre of Sanctuary status for its work with refugees and displaced people; in 2019 it staged the first ever dementia friendly opera in England; and it is recognised as an industry leader in sustainability.

The Board of Opera North currently comprises fourteen Trustees, led by Chair Paul Lee OBE and supported by Vice Chairs Renee Hunt and Rosie Millard OBE. Trustees may serve for up to three terms each of three years, and the Board is committed to diversifying its governance model, seeking new Trustees to reflect the communities served by the Company, combined with varied expertise and experience to support its hugely varied work. The three most recent Trustees, Rachel Elwell, Sarah Hall and Dominic Wallis, were announced at the beginning of 2022.

Minhaz Abedin comments:

“I am thrilled to be joining the Board of Opera North, an organisation that is at a pivotal stage in furthering its adaptability and inclusivity. Having grown up in Leeds and admired the progress of the Company for many years, I am delighted to have the opportunity to further its commitment to ‘Extraordinary experiences every day’ through music and opera.

“I hope that together we can entice a new generation of supporters to Opera North.”

Richard Mantle, General Director/CEO, Opera North, comments:

“We are delighted to welcome Minhaz to the Board of Trustees at Opera North. Through our extensive Education and Community Partnerships programmes and initiatives such as our Under 30s Scheme and the Whistle Stop Operas, we’re committed to attracting the audiences and performers of tomorrow to our art form.

“As we prepare to bring together South Asian and Western traditions in our reimagining of Monteverdi’s Orpheus this autumn, we’re excited to see how Minhaz’s vast experience as an advocate for marginalised voices can help us to bring the magic of live performance to new audiences.”

Paul Lee, Chair, Opera North, comments:

“I am very happy to welcome Minhaz to the Board of Trustees, which plays a vital part in the Opera North’s life and governance. I’m confident that his unique combination of local knowledge and international experience as a charity leader and driver of change will guide and enrich the Company’s work significantly over the coming years.”


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