Say the words ‘Freedom of Information Act’ to any Austrian and you’re likely to be met with a quizzical expression. The Austrian Rechnungshof, or National Audit Office, is however required by law to publish biannual statistics on public sector salaries at the higher end (from what I gather, it’s people who earn around the same as the Austrian chancellor). No names are mentioned in their most recent report, but what Der Standard has cleverly deduced is that through quirks in the accounting (like that the Rechnungshof is publishing on the gender pay gap for the first time) it is possible to attach some faces to the figures. And on the whole, it doesn’t make for bad reading.
Wiener Staatsoper Intendant Dominique Meyer (pictured) gets paid around €260,000. That’s the same as his thrifty predecessor, Ioan Holender, who took great pride in things like never having his office redecorated in 18 years at the helm. If we indulge the Staatsoper in a ‘Big Four’ comparison it contrasts favourably: Covent Garden’s Tony Hall got £390,000 in 2010 and Peter Gelb was left with $1.3 million after an 11% pay cut in 2009. And after the Intendant the $$$ rapidly drop off – Thomas Platzer, commercial manager and Meyer’s No. 2, earned €168,000 in 2010. The report is only concerned with managerial positions so there is no information on Generalmusikdirektor Franz Welser-Möst.
Jürgen Flimm’s salary in his final year as Salzburger Festspiele Intendant is estimated to have been €260,000. Der Standard implies a gender-based pay gap, stating that president of the Festival Helga Rabl-Stadler earned €175,300 while her male colleagues on the Festival’s Direktorium, or board of directors, earned an average of €199,400. But there are only two directors in addition to Rabl-Stadler and one of them is – or was – Flimm, which means that the Festival’s commercial manager got €150,000. If my reckoning is correct I don’t believe that suggests sexism; of the three the Intendant has the most responsibility.
I am surprised that Volksoper Intendant Robert Meyer earns €228,200, because, you know, it’s the Volksoper. Over at the Bregenzer Festspiele, Intendant David Pountney gets €142,000. A figure hasn’t been published for Theater an der Wien Intendant Roland Geyer as the opera house is subsidised by municipal funds and the Rechnungshof’s remit is federal. Or as Der Standard puts it: ‘the Viennese Social Democrats doggedly refuse to disclose their salaries.’ The same goes for the Wiener Festwochen and its Intendant Luc Bondy, though personally I’d be more curious to find out what Stéphane Lissner gets for doing squat.