National Trustee Forum

The National Trustee Forum is a multiday symposium for opera company board members to develop deeper understanding of the most pressing governance challenges and opportunities in the field of opera.

The forum is guided by OPERA America's conviction that the health of opera companies depends on the strength of their boards. Forum meetings offer board members insight into trends and issues, successful strategies, and governance concepts to reinforce their service to their companies and communities.

Past sessions have examined board recruitment and engagement strategies, committee structures, board-staff dynamics, leadership succession, and other topics that build trustee understanding of company operations.

Participants hear from experts, learn from one another, and forge lasting friendships with opera-devoted peers at other companies across the country.

Program Details

The trustees of OPERA America’s Professional Company Members are invited to participate in the National Trustee Forum at the recommendation of their general directors. Multiple trustees from a board are encouraged to attend as a group to maximize the learning potential for their company.

The daytime meetings of the forum are accompanied by an evening program of performances, receptions, and private dinners, including the National Opera Trustee Recognition Awards Dinner.

Upcoming Dates and Costs

The National Trustee Forum takes place in January or February of each year. A registration fee applies for the forum, with supplemental costs for optional evening activities.

National Trustee Forum 2021

February 3‒4 & 10‒11, 2021 | Online via Zoom

The 2021 National Trustee Forum will respond to the challenges of the past year and help prepare for the next life cycle in American opera.


Wednesday, February 3

  • 2:00–3:30pm ET – Overview and Orientation
  • 4:00–5:30pm ET – Maintaining Accessibility in a Hybrid Future
  • 6:00–7:00pm ET – BONUS: How'd They Do It? - Outdoor Performances

Thursday, February 4

  • 2:00–3:30pm ET – Upholding Commitments to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
  • 4:00–5:30pm ET – Moderated Discussion of Priority Topics
  • 6:00–7:00pm ET – BONUS: Conversation with Kevin Burdette, Bass

Wednesday, February 10

  • 2:00–3:30pm ET – Cultural Citizenship: Opera Companies as Agents of Civic Strength
  • 4:00–5:30pm ET – What is the Mission of a 21st Century Opera Company?
  • 6:00–7:00pm ET – BONUS: How'd They Do It? - Virtual Reality Opera

Thursday, February 11

  • 2:00–3:30pm ET – Strategies and Scenarios: Planning for Reopening
  • 4:00–5:00pm ET – Recognizing the Achievements of Staff, Artists, and Trustees
  • 5:00–5:30pm ET – Closing Session: Looking Ahead

Ancillary evening activities, including conversations with field leaders and artists, will be announced. Participants may choose to attend as many sessions as their schedules allow.

The National Trustee Forum is exclusive to the board members of OPERA America Professional Company Members.

  • OPERA America Individual Trustee Members — $95
  • Non-Members — $170 (includes $75 Trustee Membership to OPERA America)

To register, OPERA America Individual Trustee Members can log in to reveal a "Register" button. Non-member trustees of Professional Company Members can contact us at or 646.699.5266 to register.

For more information, contact us at or 646.699.5266.