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Article Published: 14 Jul 2021

Civic Practice Makes Perfect

Civic practice has become central to the field’s endeavors. Companies are increasingly realizing the importance of using opera to serve, represent, and engage with their communities, in many cases partnering with other local organizations to achieve mutual goals. OPERA America encourages these efforts through its biennial Civic Practice Grants, awarded to member companies and supported by the organization’s Opera Fund. Grants may be awarded for companies to learn more about their community’s civic priorities, to develop strategic partnerships with other organizations, and to deliver projects that serve local communities.

For the 2021 cycle — the second iteration of the program — OPERA America awarded $180,000 to eight companies:

Anchorage Opera
Quyana Initiative: A Commitment to Decolonization and Indigenization

This initiative is designed to increase awareness of Alaska Native issues, foster community dialogue, and demonstrate respect for the lands on which the opera company produces.

Baltimore Concert Opera
Baltimore After Freddie Gray: Building Community through Opera
A deepening partnership with the Arch Social Club, a historic African American institution, will help form connections with diverse neighborhoods, using opera as a bridge.

Cincinnati Opera
Fierce World Premiere and Community Engagement
A series of initiatives will engage diverse communities and young people. Among them: the new opera Fierce (William Menefield/Sheila Williams), about the lives of a group of teenage girls living in Cincinnati.

Los Angeles Opera
Music as Medicine
Expanding its partnerships with healthcare organizations, the company will integrate opera singing into music therapy within healthcare settings.

Opera Cultura
La Escuela Initiative
This initiative will address inequity in opera, with Opera Cultura working with partners that serve systemically marginalized communities.

Opera Parallèle
The Bullhorn: Amplifying Unheard Voices
The company will relaunch its project to strengthen relationships with the Bay Area’s LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities.

Opera Saratoga
Alzheimer’s Music Therapy Initiative
Created in partnership with Songs by Heart and the Alzheimer’s Association of North Eastern New York, this new music-therapy program will serve memory-care communities in the region.

White Snake Projects
Directory of Indigenous Performing Artists/Performing Arts Series
The company will pursue several initiatives supporting Indigenous artists, including the development of a new Indigenous opera and the publication of a directory of Indigenous performing artists as an industry resource.

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