OPERA AMERICA AWARDS $300,000 IN GRANTS TO NINE OPERA COMPANIES; Building Opera Audiences Grants Encourage Experimental, Innovative and Creative Audience-Building Activities

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Building Opera Audiences Grants Encourage Experimental, Innovative and Creative Audience-Building Activities


New York, NY—OPERA America, the national nonprofit service organization for opera, is pleased to announce it has awarded $300,000 in grants to nine opera companies through the third year of its Building Opera Audiences program, generously funded by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation. This grant program seeks to support the efforts of North American opera companies to build informed, enthusiastic audiences for opera through innovative marketing projects. Fifty-four applications totaling over $2 million in requests were submitted, demonstrating the intense level of audience development activity across North America.


The nine organizations receiving 2015 Building Opera Audiences grants are Florida Grand Opera (Miami, FL), Los Angeles Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera Lancaster, Opera Memphis, Opera Saratoga, Portland Opera, Tapestry Opera (Toronto, ON) and Utah Symphony | Utah Opera (Salt Lake City, UT).


“As cultural and entertainment options continue to grow, opera companies face increased competition for audiences,” stated Marc A. Scorca, president/CEO of OPERA America. “Awards from the Building Opera Audiences grant program provide opera companies with support to experiment with innovative projects that help engage new and retain current audiences and inform the work of the entire field.”


The third cycle of Building Opera Audiences grants features a diverse array of initiatives that seek to increase first-time attendance and improve retention rates among current audiences. These include partnerships with cultural communities, overcoming perceived barriers to attendance, efforts to incorporate the art form into popular culture, consumer research and technology.


Each funded project will be documented and evaluated throughout its lifespan. The results will be shared with the entire field so other organizations can learn from and replicate projects in their communities.


Recipients of Building Opera Audiences grants were selected by an independent panel of industry leaders, including Andrew Goldberg (vice president of marketing, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, FL), Kyle Sircus (director of marketing, Playwrights Horizons in New York, NY), Jacob Smith (development and marketing director, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society) and Melanie Thibeault (consultant, based in New York, NY).


OPERA America’s Building Opera Audiences grant program is made possible through the generosity of the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.





FLORIDA GRAND OPERA (Miami, FL) | fgo.org

Opera in Hialeah

Florida Grand Opera will expand its cultural alliance with the City of Hialeah, FL, which has a large population of low- and moderate-income households, of which more than 94 percent are Hispanic. The alliance, which began in the 2014–2015 season, includes activities such as a literacy-based program that takes place in local libraries, an experiential workshop program in high schools, and a myriad of programs for adults and seniors at the Milander Entertainment Center, including Spanish-language concerts and senior dances. In the 2015–2016 season, FGO plans to increase the scope of the program by offering Hialeah residents free transportation to its productions of Il barbiere di Siviglia and Don Pasquale.

LOS ANGELES OPERA (Los Angeles, CA) | laopera.org

Re-Branding Opera for the 21st Century

Los Angeles Opera will continue its campaign to promote opera to the public by placing opera and opera-related stories in popular television, film and other entertainment media. The project, which received its initial funding from a 2014 Building Opera Audiences grant, works to secure opera placements in a number of major TV and films. The second year of Re-Branding Opera will focus on developing a plan to grow and sustain the project as a lasting initiative. While continuing to secure placements, Los Angeles Opera will develop long-term sustainability by evaluating the elements of the consultant efforts that can be accomplished by in-house staff, identifying funding sources and exploring partnerships with other opera companies in order to share resources.

LYRIC OPERA OF CHICAGO (Chicago, IL) | lyricopera.org

Audience Loyalty Development

In recent years, Lyric Opera of Chicago has created a wide range of new programming to increase the company’s relevance and broaden its civic impact, engaging tens of thousands of new audience members. Now, Lyric will implement strategic audience development research to determine what factors drive company loyalty within new populations of audiences and how the company can develop relevant and appealing loyalty programs. Lyric will study how new audiences interact with the company and how to develop activities and marketing tools to appeal to different segments of its entire audience. Through this research, Lyric will be equipped to create an informed loyalty development roadmap, which will enable the company to cultivate interest, improve customer service, address barriers to attendance and make all audiences feel welcome.

OPERA LANCASTER (Lancaster, PA) | operalancaster.com

Generation Next: A Young Artist and Young Audiences Program

Through Generation Next, Opera Lancaster will engage no fewer than 10,000 South-Central Pennsylvania school children and young adults in personal opera experiences. First, the company will captivate elementary-aged children through Opera Tales: The Three Little Pigs, produced since spring 2014 in collaboration with Lancaster Bible College. Second, as part of a new joint partnership with Millersville University, the company will create a program featuring highlights from Carmen for middle and high school students. Lastly, the company will grow the younger generation’s appreciation of opera through a Come to the Show program, marketed specifically to families, which will offer free children’s tickets to opera events.

OPERA MEMPHIS (Memphis, TN) | operamemphis.org

Deepening the “30 Days of Opera” Experience

Opera Memphis will increase the scope of its 30 Days of Opera program, a month-long audience development initiative launched in 2012 and presented by Evolve Bank & Trust. Each September, the program delivers 30 consecutive days of free performances throughout the Memphis area, inspiring hundreds of attendees to purchase tickets to Opera Memphis’ mainstage performances. New for 2015, Opera Memphis will embed a documentary filmmaker with the 30 Days performers. The resulting footage will provide content for a new website that will be updated daily with customized links, along with lively video segments featuring singers and audience members. The website will target 30 Days attendees with opera-related experiences that bridge the gap between thinking about attending an opera and actually buying a ticket.

OPERA SARATOGA (Saratoga Springs, NY) | operasaratoga.org

Saratoga Sings!

Saratoga Sings! is designed to increase Opera Saratoga’s civic footprint, build awareness of the company in the region, and increase both loyalty and ticket sales. Through the program, Opera Saratoga will offer free monthly performance events from October 2015 through May 2016, leading up to the company’s summer festival. These programs will take place at strategically selected locations unique to the region that provide opportunities for the public to connect to opera in familiar settings. The program will leverage collaborative partnerships with historical and cultural organizations, as well as local businesses. Through the use of a customized loyalty app, the program will provide a vehicle through which the company can build loyalty, collect market research, and motivate new and expanded paid participation at summer festival performances.

PORTLAND OPERA (Portland, OR) | portlandopera.org

Opera a la Cart

This audience development project is inspired by the mobility and ingenuity of the city’s food cart culture, which is internationally celebrated and a source of local pride. Portland Opera will create a traveling performance cart inspired by the food truck aesthetic. The cart’s foldout platform will be a performance stage and its chalkboard menu items will be the operatic specials du jour — arias, duets and ensembles performed by charismatic young singers for the crowds that will gather. Attendees will be provided with a “takeout menu” highlighting upcoming activities, the mainstage opera schedule and a new “It’s My First Time” package, which will offer specially priced tickets, a rehearsal invitation, introductory materials and a preview CD. The package will be redeemed through a dedicated promotional code, allowing the company to track responses and evaluate success.

TAPESTRY OPERA (Toronto, ON) | tapestryopera.com

Indie Opera T.O. — Up-rising

Twelve independent opera companies have come together under the leadership of Tapestry Opera Artistic Director Michael Hidetoshi Mori to embrace the collective power of inter-organizational collaboration and promotion. Driven by the energy and innovation of emerging indie opera leaders in Toronto, the initiative will provide resources for associated companies to promote their activities to a wider audience base by building, consolidating and tracking an interactive and cross-promotional web and social media presence, effectively promoting indie opera in Toronto as a vibrant underground movement led by visionary young artists and arts professionals. Associated companies include Against the Grain Theatre, Opera 5, Bicycle Opera Project, Essential Opera, Metro Youth Opera, Liederwölf, FAWN, Urbanvessel, Loose TEA Music Theatre, The Friends of Gravity and Opera After Hours.

UTAH SYMPHONY | UTAH OPERA (Salt Lake City, UT) | usuo.org

Creative Community

Utah Opera will collaborate with local artists in Salt Lake City’s active and diverse creative community to host innovative events that celebrate creativity and create a nexus of varied disciplines united by opera. With the goal of increasing awareness and spurring attendance for opera, events will highlight the many art forms that come together as part of the opera experience. Creative Community targets a highly desirable and potentially large pool of trendsetters and leaders in Utah’s creative class who are opera newcomers and may not be aware the natural alignments existing between opera and other forms of creative expression. Attendance results at these events and Utah Opera productions will be analyzed to determine which segments of the creative community are most likely to attend opera and which collaborations were most effective in increasing opera attendance.



For more information about OPERA America and its services, visit operaamerica.org.



/OPERAAmerica @OPERAAmerica /OPERAAmerica



About OPERA America

OPERA America (operaamerica.org) leads and serves the entire opera community, supporting the creation, presentation and enjoyment of opera.

  • Artistic services help opera companies and creative and performing artists to improve the quality of productions and increase the creation and presentation of North American works.
  • Information, technical and administrative services to opera companies reflect the need for strengthened leadership among staff, trustees and volunteers.
  • Education, audience development and community services are designed to enhance all forms of opera appreciation.


Founded in 1970, OPERA America’s worldwide membership network includes nearly 200 Company Members, 300 Associate and Business Members, 2,000 Individual Members and more than 10,000 subscribers to the association’s electronic news service. In response to the critical need for suitable audition, rehearsal and recording facilities, OPERA America opened the first-ever NATIONAL OPERA CENTER (operaamerica.org/OperaCenter) in September 2012 in New York City. With a wide range of artistic and administrative services in a purpose-built facility, OPERA America is dedicated to increasing the level of excellence, creativity and effectiveness across the field.



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