Welcome to Dame Liz Forgan DBE

7 October 2019

We’re delighted to announce the appointment of Dame Liz Forgan DBE as our new Chair of Trustees, and Mike Laven as Trustee.

Following our critically-acclaimed Orchestral Theatre staging of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique at the BBC Proms, the appointments continue an exciting period of artistic and organisational growth at Aurora.

One of the most distinguished leaders in her field, Dame Liz brings a wealth of experience from her many past executive and non-executive roles. Having started her career as a journalist for the Teheran JournalEvening Standard and Guardian newspapers, she went on to become part of the team that founded Channel 4, before joining the BBC to become Managing Director of Network Radio. From 2003–2016 she chaired the Scott Trust, the parent company of The Guardian, and in 2009 was appointed the first female Chair of Arts Council England. Other major roles in public life include having chaired the Heritage Lottery Fund, Churches Conservation Trust, Bristol Old Vic, and, most recently, the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. She was named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to broadcasting in 2006, and is an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy.

Appointed following an extensive recruitment process conducted in partnership with Nurole, Dame Liz will succeed Louis Watt, our current Chair of Trustees, when he retires from the board at the end of his final term in December 2019.  A founding member of the team that launched Aurora in 2005, Louis has steered our board through a period of rapid artistic and organisational growth, during which the organisation has developed from dynamic startup to one of Europe’s leading chamber orchestras.

Liz Forgan says: ‘I have been inspired by Aurora’s concerts for years and I am truly delighted to be working directly with such brilliant and inventive artists.’ 

As part of its current board recruitment round, Aurora is also delighted to announce the appointment of Mike Laven, CEO of the global online payments platform Currencycloud, as a new Trustee. A leading figure in the London ‘fintech revolution’ that is driving the digital transformation of the finance industry, Mike started his career working for the United Nations in disaster relief before moving into business. He brings three decades of experience at the helm of technology firms in London and Silicon Valley, and is also on the board of RxArt, a New York non-profit that places works by contemporary artists in children’s hospitals. Under his leadership Currencycloud has grown from a startup to the world’s most trusted online payment platform.

Mike Laven says: ‘Aurora is truly an accomplished, creative and innovative group and I’m honoured and excited to be part of its future.’

John Harte, our Chief Executive, says: ‘We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Liz Forgan and Mike Laven to Aurora’s board. As Chair, Liz will bring unparalleled knowledge of the UK arts and broadcasting landscape, deep strategic insight, and an abiding passion for Aurora’s mission and values. We can’t wait to see what new heights the organisation can reach under her leadership. And as we enter this new chapter we also extend warmest thanks to her predecessor Louis Watt, who as founding Chair has overseen a decade and half of unbroken growth and artistic success.

Mike is one of the most respected entrepreneurs in the rapidly-developing field of finance technology, and over the course of his career has helped countless rapidly-growing companies across the globe to reach their full potential. His expertise will be invaluable as Aurora looks to broaden its reach both in the concert hall and digitally over coming seasons.

These are exciting times for Aurora, with a thriving creative team at the top of its game; a highly distinctive artistic programme; a growing national and international profile; and huge potential for further broadening our audience. We look forward very much to working with Liz and Mike to realise our ambitious plans for the future.’

Departing Chair Louis Watt says: ‘I’m delighted that Liz and Mike will be joining the board, and have no doubt that they will help lead Aurora on to even greater artistic success. It’s been a real privilege to have played a part in growing the orchestra since its founding in 2005, and wish the whole Aurora team the very best for years ahead.’