Press Released: 10 Feb 2021

OPERA America Launches Opera Grants for Female Stage Directors and Conductors

To Advance Gender Parity in Artistic Leadership Roles

Supported by the Marineau Family Foundation

OPERA America is pleased to announce the launch of the Opera Grants for Female Stage Directors and Conductors program, a new initiative developed to advance gender parity in the field by incentivizing opera companies to hire women for key artistic leadership roles. The grants are generously funded by the Marineau Family Foundation.

Female-identifying 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 Stage Director and Conductor Grants will help OPERA America’s Professional Company Members increase the number of women in these roles. Grants of as much as $10,000 will cover up to 50 percent of the fee of a female stage director or conductor who is contracted for the first time by an applicant company. In each grant cycle, a minimum of two grants will be awarded to each budget group of Professional Company Members. (Professional Company Members are categorized into five budget groups based on the size of their annual budgets.) A single company will only be awarded one grant per grant cycle.

“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 female 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 female 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 advancement office of OPERA America. “These directors and conductors are trailblazers and visible role models for the next generation of artists inspired to work in opera, and they also have a direct influence on the selection of other members of their creative teams.”

The Opera Grants for Female Stage Directors and Conductors is the most recent addition to a series of OPERA America offerings aimed at increasing gender parity across the field. These include the Opera Grants for Female 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, companies, and administrators.

The first application cycle for Stage Director and Conductor Grants is now open. The deadline to apply is March 31, 2021, for productions scheduled from June 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021. There will be a second cycle later in the year for productions scheduled from January 1, 2022, through June 30, 2021. To apply or review the full set of guidelines, go to the OGFSDC grant page.

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For press inquiries, contact Press@operaamerica.org or 212.796.8628.