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OPERA America Awards $300,000 in Building Opera Audiences Grants

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OPERA America Awards $300,000 in Building Opera Audiences Grants

OPERA America, the national nonprofit service organization for opera, is pleased to announce it has awarded $300,000 in grants to seven opera companies through the second year of its Building Opera Audiences grant 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-three applications totaling over $2 million in requests were submitted, demonstrating the intense level of audience development activity across North America.

The seven organizations receiving 2014 Building Opera Audiences grants are: Arizona Opera (Phoenix and Tucson, AZ), Central City Opera (Denver, CO), Cincinnati Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera Philadelphia and Palm Beach Opera.

"As cultural and entertainment options continue to grow, opera companies face increased competition for audiences," stated Marc A. Scorca, president/CEO of OPERA America. "The Building Opera Audiences grant program provides funding to experiment with innovative projects that help engage new and retain current audiences, ensuring that opera and opera companies flourish in the future."

The second cycle of Building Opera Audiences grants feature a diverse array of initiatives that seek to increase first-time attendance and improve retention rates among current audiences. The range of these projects includes forging relationships with cultural communities, overcoming perceived barriers to attendance, incorporating the art form into the popular culture, methodically studying consumer engagement and employing technology to engage audiences.

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

Recipients of Building Opera Audiences grants were selected by a panel of industry leaders, including Deeksha Gaur (Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, D.C.), Lindsey Hansen (Director of Marketing, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in St. Paul, MN), Drew McManus (arts consultant, based in Chicago, IL), Thomas Michel (Director of Development, Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York, NY) and Robert Sweibel (Director of Marketing and Communications, Berkeley Repertory Theatre in Berkeley, CA).

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

DESCRIPTIONS:

ARIZONA OPERA (Phoenix and Tucson, AZ) | azopera.org

¡Viva la Opera!

During the 2013-2014 season, with help from OPERA America's Building Opera Audiences grant and a partnership with Univision, Arizona Opera (AZO) forged new and lasting relationships statewide with initiatives that focus on welcoming communities that are often underserved by the arts. AZO has enjoyed meaningful successes in these initiatives, including Spanish-language concert programming, targeted marketing for program initiatives, Univision spots for AZO productions and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of La bohème that Univision has submitted for EMMY consideration. In its second year, Arizona Opera seeks to cement ¡Viva la Opera! as an integral and lasting part of its yearly programming, making it a sustaining component of AZO's company identity.

CENTRAL CITY OPERA (Denver, CO) | centralcityopera.org

Boomer Bus

Central City Opera (CCO) will be building on its analysis of a three-year innovation project by implementing the Boomer Bus. This new program is designed to attract individuals ages 50-65 to attend live opera performances in Central City. Participants will board a bus in Denver and be treated to a live history presentation of Central City and CCO, a catered lunch in the gardens, a behind the scenes experience, a Short Works program and a full live opera performance. The entertaining bus ride returning to Denver will include an opportunity for a Q&A session with a member of CCO's education and community engagement team. In order to track repeat attendance, participants will be offered a promotional code for discounted tickets to another 2014-2015 CCO production.

CINCINNATI OPERA (Cincinnati, OH) | cincinnatiopera.org

The Opera Express

For too many people, going to the opera is perceived as time-consuming, expensive and geographically inaccessible. Cincinnati Opera will offer a direct and efficient answer to these barriers: a high-quality opera experience that is brief, affordable and goes where the audience is. The Opera Express will be a mobile opera theater housed inside a converted semi-trailer. In groups of 16 to 20, guests will enter a stylish, comfortable performance space. The door will close, the lights will dim and the opera will begin. Performances ranging from 10 to 15 minutes will feature professional singers, lighting, costumes and scenery. Launching in the spring of 2015, The Opera Express will deliver theatrical opera experiences to new audiences throughout the Cincinnati metropolitan region, and the potential for expansion is significant.

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by Richard Sasanow