OPERA America Awards $180,000 In Civic Practice Grants To Eight U.S. Professional Company Members
Supported by OPERA America’s Opera Fund
OPERA America is pleased to award $180,000 in Civic Practice Grants to eight U.S. opera companies. The grants, funded by OPERA America’s Opera Fund, are designed to support opera companies’ efforts to address civic priorities in their communities more fully; develop robust, reciprocal relationships with other arts and non-arts organizations; and deliver greater public value through authentic, mutually beneficial partnerships.
The recipients of this cycle of Civic Practice Grants are:
- Kentucky Opera (Louisville, KY) for Songs of Transformation
- Los Angeles Opera (Los Angeles, CA) for Music as Medicine
- Opera Baltimore (Baltimore, MD) for Avenue for Change
- Opera Birmingham (Birmingham, AL) for accessibility programs for low-vision/low-hearing artists and audiences
- Opera on Tap (Brooklyn, NY) for JOAN OF THE CITY
- Pittsburgh Opera (Pittsburgh, PA) for Embracing Our Roots
- The Santa Fe Opera (Santa Fe, NM) for Pueblo Opera Cultural Council
- Tulsa Opera (Tulsa, OK) for Songs by Heart
See below for a description of each project.
Civic practice, as defined in OPERA America’s 2018 report “An Introduction to Civic Practice,” draws on opera’s authentic creative assets to address public priorities and community needs. Effective implementation is predicated on an ongoing process of learning, partnership, and leading change. Opera leaders must think flexibly about the art form’s strengths and develop a nuanced understanding of and deep respect for their local histories and identities. This work requires an examination of what it means for opera companies to be engaged cultural citizens in their communities as the basis for building long-term trust and appreciation for companies and the art form.
“To serve their communities more fully, opera companies must embrace partnerships and work beyond the traditional reach of their public programs,” stated Marc A. Scorca, president/CEO of OPERA America. “Civic Practice Grants provide resources to companies ready to engage with this essential work.”
Supported projects focus on social justice, civil rights, health and wellness, and accessibility, among other areas, and include partnerships with organizations at the national, state-wide, and local levels, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Disability Theatre, The Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, Alzheimer’s LA, and Baltimore’s Department of Recreation and Parks. The projects range from songs addressing social justice to new technology for low-vision/low-hearing audiences. Their impact will be felt by individuals living with memory loss disorders, long-haul COVID, and other chronic illnesses.
Recipients of the Civic Practice Grants were selected by a panel of independent experts consisting of Autumn Coppaway, theater consultant; Ben Dietschi, senior consultant, DeVos Institute of Arts Management; Ersian François, general manager/associate producer, The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics, Georgetown University; Donna Walker-Kuhne, founder and president, Walker International Communications Group; and Diane Wondisford, producer and director.
Civic Practice Grants are funded by OPERA America’s Opera Fund, an endowment dedicated to supporting the creation and production of new operas and related audience development strategies. The Grants, launched in 2018, were informed by OPERA America’s Civic Action Group and regional workshops that were funded by two Our Town Grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. They reflect OPERA America’s commitment to sustaining long-term investment in making opera and opera companies more responsive to pressing community needs.
The Opera Fund was launched with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, with additional support from Helen F. Whitaker Fund, Lee Day Gillespie, Lloyd and Mary Ann Gerlach, the Mellon Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
More information about OPERA America’s grant programs is available at operaamerica.org/Grants.