OPERA America Awards $1.4M in Innovation Grants

OPERA America Awards $1.4M in Innovation Grants

OPERA America Awards $1.4M in Innovation GrantsOPERA America, the national service organization for opera and the nation's leading champion of American opera, is pleased to announce the first-ever recipients of Innovation Grants, generously funded by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.

Launched last fall, Innovation Grants support exceptional projects that have the capacity to strengthen the field's most important areas of practice, including artistic vitality, audience experience, organizational effectiveness and community connections. These grants invest up to $1.5 million annually in OPERA America's Professional Company Members, enabling organizations of all sizes to increase their commitment to experimentation and innovation, as well as contribute to field-wide learning.

Twenty-seven companies - representing nearly 20 percent of all Professional Company Members - received awards totaling $1.411 million in the program's first granting cycle. The recipients are:

American Lyric Theater (New York, NY)

Michigan Opera Theatre (Detroit, MI)

American Opera Projects (New York, NY)

Minnesota Opera (Minneapolis, MN)

Anchorage Opera

Opera Maine (Portland, ME)

Arizona Opera (Phoenix, AZ)

Opera Memphis

The Atlanta Opera

Opera Omaha

Austin Opera

Opera Philadelphia

Beth Morrison Projects (New York, NY)

Opera Saratoga

Central City Opera (Central City, CO)

Pacific Opera Victoria (Victoria, BC)

The Dallas Opera

San Diego Opera

Fargo-Moorhead Opera (Fargo, ND)

San Francisco Opera

Florentine Opera Company (Milwaukee, WI)

The Santa Fe Opera

The Glimmerglass Festival (Cooperstown, NY)

Seattle Opera

HERE (New York, NY)

Tulsa Opera

Houston Grand Opera

Grants will fund a wide range of initiatives, including programs to support opera creators and incubate new works; productions of new or novel repertoire and related audience-engagement activities; the presentation of works in unusual venues or in innovative season formats; partnerships among performing arts organizations, and with social service providers; and added institutional capacity to address areas such as the overall audience experience and program evaluation. (See below for details about all the funded initiatives.)

The Innovation Grants program also includes an infrastructure to capture and assess outcomes of funded projects. OPERA America will provide administrative and technical support to document successes, challenges and even failures. Outcomes will be shared with the entire field at future OPERA America meetings and conferences, as well as through publications.

"Thanks to the tremendous generosity of the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, our member companies receive support to pursue new thinking and experimentation - to expand the boundaries of their current practices and adapt to an ever-changing field," stated Marc A. Scorca, president and CEO of OPERA America. "These grants benefit not only the recipients but the entire art form: Through the lessons gleaned from the funded initiatives, companies throughout North American will be able to borrow and adapt good ideas, spreading the learning field-wide."

Submitted by 55 companies in the U.S. and Canada, grant applications were adjudicated by an independent panel consisting of Barbara Schaffer Bacon, co-director, Animating Democracy; Michelle Hensley, artistic director, Ten Thousand Things; Anne Manson, conductor; Ann Owens, field consultant, and former executive director, Houston Grand Opera; Kate E. Prescott, president, Prescott & Associates; Kyle Sircus, director of marketing, Playwright Horizons; and James Wright, field consultant, and former general director, Vancouver Opera.

Applications for the next cycle of Innovation Grants will open this fall. Visit operaamerica.org/Grants to learn more about Innovation Grants, as well as OPERA America's complete grant offerings.


Innovation Grants were awarded to the following 27 companies for the projects described below:

American Lyric Theater will offer its Composer Librettist Development Program (CLDP) with significant enhancements, including the creation of an apprenticeship for an emerging opera dramaturg and stipends for all first-year resident artists. The CLDP was the first full-time mentorship initiative for both opera composers and librettists in the country. A tuition-free, multiyear training program with a highly credentialed faculty, the CLDP has a proven track record for developing the skills of gifted writers, incubating successful operas and fostering lasting collaborations.

Music-theater students will have the opportunity to compose for operatic voices through a new initiative from American Opera Projects at several institutions. Students will create six new site-specific works on the theme of "New York Stories." This curriculum will provide training that is underrepresented in academic music-theater programs, serving as a potential model for other schools and conservatories.

Anchorage Opera will present the Alaskan premiere of As One, the powerful chamber opera by Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed that chronicles the experiences of a transgender protagonist. This project is courageous in Alaska, which has no state laws to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination and does not address hate crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Through the presentation of this socially relevant work and a partnership with Identity, a statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization, Anchorage Opera seeks to attract new audiences and actively engage in an important community issue.

Arizona Opera will use learning from its Arizona Bold initiative, launched in 2014 and focused on creating connectivity between audiences and the art form of opera, to continue its evolution. The company is seeking opportunities both on and off the main stage to maximize its civic impact through expanded programmatic offerings and performance experiences. A more sustainable season model will be achieved by internalizing the civic spirit of Arizona Bold into the central strategy of the company, engaging new areas of the community with each production and program.

Undertaking its first-ever commission, The Atlanta Opera will premiere 2020, an opera inspired by the real-life experiences of Chad Foster, who lost his sight as a young man. Incorporating accessibility technology and feedback from focus groups of target audiences, 2020 will create an environment that simulates the experience of living without sight.

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