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Article Published: 10 May 2021

Mentorship for BIPOC Professionals

Many of opera’s inherited practices and prejudices have excluded people of color from participating in the art form — a fact borne out by the dearth of BIPOC administrators in opera companies’ ranks. OPERA America’s latest program, the Mentorship Program for Opera Leaders of Color, seeks to redress this imbalance. This new initiative will pair BIPOC professionals with executive-level mentors who can support them in achieving their career goals.

Applications opened earlier this spring, and the selected participants will be paired with mentors based on their stated needs and interests. The teams will work together in a yearlong program designed to identify barriers and achievement gaps, establish an action plan for professional growth, and set goals for a long-term career trajectory. The program is open to current or recent employees of OPERA America organizational members looking to reach the next level in their careers.

“OPERA America reaffirms its pledge to be an agent for change in the determined and sustained effort to eradicate racism and ensure equity and justice throughout the opera field,” states Marc A. Scorca, president and CEO of OPERA America. “It is our hope that this new program will help break down some of the systems that have prevented administrators of color from achieving leadership positions.”

The selection committee is made up of members of OPERA America’s Racial Justice Opera Network (RJON), a group of opera stakeholders who work to enrich the art form and industry through racial equity. “We’re committed to understanding the needs of opera leaders of color, which is why I’m thrilled that the adjudication panel will be composed of members of RJON who contributed to the development of the program,” said Kristal Pacific, director of social equity and grantmaking at OPERA America. “This will ensure that applicants are being evaluated by BIPOC peers who understand both the overt and the implicit challenges of navigating the opera landscape.” The selected participants will be announced this summer.

To learn more about the Mentorship Program for Opera Leaders of Color, as well as OA’s other leadership development programs, visit operaamerica.org/LeadDev.

This article was published in the Spring 2021 issue of Opera America Magazine.