Here's What Alan Yentob Said Last Time A Charity He Chaired Had Financial Troubles
"I do not acknowledge that the problem has been a failure to manage," he said in 2010.
Alan Yentob, the BBC's creative director and the former chair of Kids Company, was the chair of another charity that hit severe financial difficulties.
From 2002 to 2010, Yentob was the chair of the influential Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), a charity founded in 1946 as a home for "radical" arts. The charity receives a mixture of public and private sector funding.
However, the organisation ran into serious financial difficulties in the wake of the financial crisis, running at one stage an operating deficit of around £500,000. This led to ructions in the senior management of the charity, a wave of departures, a major cuts programme, and a £1.2 million bailout grant from the Arts Council.
Among the criticisms amid the charity's difficulties at the time were a huge expansion in the number of paid staff – which hit 110 at its peak in 2008-9 – and questions about the choice of executive director brought in during the cost overruns: The trustees chose Ekow Eshun, a writer and broadcaster, who was said to have little managerial experience.
The funding shortfalls, heightened by a disappointing art sale, loss of commercial revenue, and falling retail sales on the premises led to public rows and resignations, including a staff ballot into whether to call for the resignation of the executive director.
Yentob eventually stood down as chair during the furore in October 2010, and resigned as a trustee altogether six months later, in March 2011.
However, in an interview at the time with the Evening Standard, Yentob refused to accept any suggestion that the charity had made mistakes.
"I do not think it right to blame anyone," he told the newspaper in November 2010. "I do not acknowledge that the problem has been a failure to manage. I do not think we can ask who was responsible for what you are calling a financial mess. It's not a blame game."
"It came about through bad luck, bad foresight and a bad gamble. The ICA has made its case to the Arts Council that it was not negligent. It ran into trouble."
Ten months before, while he was still chair of the ICA, Yentob told The Guardian: "We've been managing a programme with a large staff running numerous individual projects. When trouble emerged and financial problems surfaced because of the recession it was as if we had been ambushed from every side."
The ICA has long since reversed its financial issues, a spokeswoman told BuzzFeed News today.
"We can confirm that the ICA is currently financially stable and doing well," she said. "We've made a modest surplus each year with the exception of 2013-14. Our surplus for the last four years averages around £86,000 annually."
She said BuzzFeed News' characterisation of the financial troubles in 2010 was "about right", but added that reports of disputes among the institute's senior management of the time were "subject to interpretation as people often have differing views of this period".
BuzzFeed News attempted to contact Alan Yentob for comment about his period as chair of the ICA. A spokeswoman for the BBC said she was unable to deal with the query as "we can't help unless it's directly related to his work at the BBC".
Laurence Guinn, the former Kids Company trustee handling media inquiries about the charity, said he had "no connection to Alan in this respect so I can't help you".
Yentob's PA at the BBC was "too busy" to take a call in relation to the query, a switchboard operator said, and an email to her for comment had not been replied to by the time of publication.