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Article Published: 02 Jan 2017

OA Takes Action

Aiming to bolster the opera field’s capacity for strengthening community and addressing civic priorities, OPERA America has launched a two-year initiative, the Civic Action Group. The project assembles a cohort of five U.S. companies, selected by OPERA America, and two Canadian companies, selected by OA’s sister organization, Opera.ca, all chosen for their track records of building long-term, mutually beneficial community partnerships.

Representatives from each of the participating companies — Anchorage Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Memphis, Opera Philadelphia, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Manitoba Opera and Pacific Opera Victoria — assembled at the beginning of December for two days of discussion at the National Opera Center, sharing approaches for strengthening community ties. They met with Roberto Bedoya, an expert in arts-based civic engagement projects, who is serving as lead consultant on the project, along with Michael Rohd, founding artist of the Center for Performance and Civic Practice, and Mark Valdez, president of ArtsValdez Consulting. The Civic Action Group will present its initial findings this May, at Opera Conference 2017 in Dallas.

The scope of the Civic Action Group will expand in its second year, when additional organizations will participate as part of a larger peer-learning group. Opera-company staff members from the first-year cohort, joined by outside faculty, will lead these efforts. By the end of the project, OPERA America plans to compile case studies and effective methodologies into a resource for the entire field.

“Opera possesses the capacity to enrich the lives of diverse audiences and communicate universal human stories, intensified and elevated by music,” says OPERA America President/CEO Marc A. Scorca. “With the Civic Action Group, we see a great opportunity to use the art form’s unique qualities to address local civic priorities through authentic partnerships —and to help opera companies find ways to enhance their real and perceived value as cultural citizens in communities throughout North America.”

The Civic Action Group is funded with the support of an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

This article was published in the Winter 2017 issue of Opera America Magazine.