Disability-Led Vancouver Opera Company Raises Voices For Chronic Illnesses During The Pandemic

Opera Mariposa partners with BC businesses and arts organizations to raise awareness and funds for the ME|FM Society of BC.

By: May. 06, 2021

Disability-Led Vancouver Opera Company Raises Voices For Chronic Illnesses During The Pandemic This month, Canada's first entirely disability-run opera company is raising voices in a new way for the chronic illness community.

Until June 1st, Vancouver's Opera Mariposa is presenting a Benefit + Awareness campaign for chronic neuro-immune diseases, featuring an array of digital programming in support of the ME|FM Society of BC.

The campaign honours the International Awareness Month for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Fibromyalgia (ME & FM), and includes videos, music, a shop-to-give event, and a draw with over $3,500 in prizes.

Opera Mariposa's 2021 Benefit + Awareness month represents a digital transformation of the company's annual charity programming, with releases on platforms like YouTube and iTunes, plus the chance to win everything from online theatre tickets to a post-pandemic vacation. "Like many arts companies, we're navigating an evolving reality these days," says general manager Stephanie Ko, "but one thing is clear, and it's that the chronic illness community needs our support more than ever. Over a million Canadians have ME or Fibromyalgia, and many of them are so sick they can't leave their homes or their beds. Worst of all, they often face these life-altering illnesses without access to proper support or medical care - Statistics Canada reports that ME and FM patients have among the greatest unmet healthcare needs in the country, and the pandemic has only made things worse."

Ko says that COVID-19 adds urgency in another way as well. "Illnesses like ME often have a post-viral onset, and experts have repeatedly warned that COVID-19 patients are at risk of developing ME. It happened after other viral outbreaks like SARS, and so far, it looks like 30% of COVID sufferers are experiencing long-term health impacts." Both Ko and her sister, Mariposa's artistic director Jacqueline Ko, have personal experience with this phenomenon. "My sister and I developed ME after catching a virus as schoolchildren. Now more than ever, we want to raise awareness, and use our platform to support desperately-needed research and resources."

Opera Mariposa's Benefit + Awareness month features music and videos by multi-award-winning singers Jacqueline Ko and Lyndon Ladeur and YouTube personality Robin Hahn, while their giveaway features prizes donated by beloved local businesses and arts organizations like City Opera Vancouver, the Vancouver Bach Choir, United Players of Vancouver, Stong's Market, Chinatown's Kam Wai Dim Sum and many more. The full Benefit + Awareness month schedule can be found at operamariposa.com/schedule, while the international prize draw can be entered until June 1, 2021 at operamariposa.rallyup.com/may2021benefit or by texting MARIPOSA to 1-855-202-2100.