OPERA America Awards $36,650 in Opera Grants for Women Stage Directors and Conductors
Supported by the Marineau Family Foundation
OPERA America is pleased to announce the inaugural recipients of the Opera Grants for Women Stage Directors and Conductors program. This new initiative allows Professional Company Members to receive up to $10,000 to subsidize as much as 50 percent of the fee of a woman stage director or conductor who is contracted for the first time by the company. The grants are generously funded by the Marineau Family Foundation.
The grants aim to advance gender parity in the field by incentivizing opera companies to hire women for key artistic leadership roles. Women stage directors and conductors have been consistently underrepresented in opera productions, on average comprising fewer than 30 percent of the directors and fewer than 15 percent of the conductors in recent seasons.
The nine recipients are:
- Cincinnati Opera (Cincinnati, OH); Lynn Meyers, stage director
- The Glimmerglass Festival (Cooperstown, NY); NJ Agwuna, stage director
- Houston Grand Opera (Houston, TX); Lidiya Yankovskaya, conductor
- Long Beach Opera (Long Beach, CA); Jenny Wong, conductor
- Michigan Opera Theatre (Detroit, MI); Kaneza Schaal, stage director
- New Camerata Opera (New York, NY); Kimille Howard, stage director
- Opera Columbus (Columbus, OH); Tiffany Chang, conductor
- Opera Steamboat (Steamboat Springs, CO); Maria Sensi Sellner, conductor
- West Edge Opera (Berkeley, CA); Indre Viskontas, stage director
See below for additional information about the recipients and their projects.
Applications were received from 23 Professional Company Members. This round of grants will support four new productions of established repertoire, a new production of 20th-century repertoire, two 21st-century works, a double bill of 21st- and 20th-century works, and an eight-film adaptation of songs featuring BIPOC composers and artists.
“It is my hope that these grants will not only encourage companies to consider the many talented women who can lead their productions, but also promote gender parity within an organization from the top down,” stated Sue Marineau, president of the Marineau Family Foundation. “When a company hires a woman director or conductor, that sends a powerful message to women aspiring to such roles and often leads to more equitable hiring practices among all artistic personnel.”
“OPERA America is committed to pursuing gender equity in all facets of the field and addressing the historical underrepresentation of women in key artistic roles,” remarked Marc A. Scorca, president and CEO of OPERA America. “We have already made strides through our grant programs for women composers. Now, thanks to Sue Marineau and the Marineau Family Foundation, we can expand our efforts to include a broader set of artists and move toward a more holistic support of women in our industry.”
“Increased representation enhances opera as an art form by incorporating the insights, perspectives, and talent of a broader set of artists,” commented Laura Lee Everett, chief programs officer of OPERA America. “These directors and conductors are trailblazers and visible role models for the next generation of artists inspired to work in opera.”
Opera Grants for Women Stage Directors and Conductors is the most recent addition to a series of OPERA America resources aimed at increasing gender parity across the field. These include the Opera Grants for Women Composers program’s Discovery Grants and Commissioning Grants (generously supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation), the Mentorship Program for Women Administrators, and the Women’s Opera Network. Since the inception of its granting programs in the mid-1980s, OPERA America has awarded over $20 million to the opera field to support the work of opera creators, administrators, and companies.
There will be a second cycle of Opera Grants for Women Stage Directors and Conductors later this year for productions scheduled from January 1, 2022, through June 30, 2021. To apply or review the full set of guidelines, go to the Grants page.