Wesfarmers finance director Terry Bowen has been appointed chairman of WA Opera, replacing Warwick Hemsley, who remains on the board after four years at the helm.
The appointment came as the company's annual report revealed a loss of $118,593 in 2013 - a slump from the $816,850 profit in 2012 - which has been attributed to higher production costs, reduced subscriptions and slower ticket sales.
The overall balance sheet remains healthy, with a net surplus of $61,000 and more than $3 million equity in retained profits and reserves.
"The company is in a very strong financial position so that it can bear a loss," WA Opera general manager Carolyn Chard said. "The company has been able to invest in its own future."
Ms Chard said 2013 had been a challenging and successful year in which the financial result reflected the "swings and roundabouts" of fundraising campaigns and spending on repertoire choices.
She pointed also to changing audience habits which had meant fewer people were committing to full-year subscription packages.
Mr Bowen, elevated from deputy chairman, said he was looking forward to working with Ms Chard as the company headed towards its 50th anniversary in 2017.
Mr Bowen said Mr Hemsley had steered WA Opera through a number of ground-
breaking partnerships, including Elektra with ThinIce, Opera Australia and the Perth International Arts Festival and the international collaboration of Otello at PIAF this year.
Ms Chard was optimistic about the next few years with a major unnamed production planned for the PIAF next year, another project involving former Split Enz frontman Tim Finn and several golden anniversary events slated for 2017.
Joining the WA Opera board is Julian Burt, director of the drilling technology company Metzke, while Andrew Pascoe has been appointed as co-deputy chairman alongside Catherine Ferrari.