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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. 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 OPERA America Salutes awards dinner.

Upcoming Dates and Costs

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

National Trustee Forum 2022

October 19‒21, 2022 | New York City
Wednesday, October 19, 1:30 p.m. ‒ 4:30 p.m. ET
Thursday‒Friday, October 20‒21, 9:30 a.m. ‒ 4:30 p.m. ET

The 2022 National Trustee Forum brings together opera company board members to gain insight into the most important governance issues and opportunities shaping the opera field as we look beyond the pandemic.

The Forum is part of OPERA America's National Trustee Weekend, October 19-22, for opera company trustees, supporters, and guests from across the country. Forum attendees can register for additional weekend activities including performances at The Metropolitan Opera and Roundabout Theatre; and the OPERA America Salutes awards dinner.



Companies may vary in size and location, but the fundamental dynamics of the business model apply to all of them. Drawing on OPERA America data, President/CEO Marc A. Scorca will present an overview of the tremendous range and similarity of the companies represented at this year’s National Trustee Forum.

Trends in Board Engagement
Board members engage in self-evaluation processes and evaluate the performance of senior staff. But senior staff members are rarely asked to evaluate the performance of their boards. A survey of the general directors and senior staff of member companies documented the strengths and revealed the weakness of companies of all sizes. Findings will be shared and discussed.

Audience Motivation Research
Recent research reveals new insight about audiences’ motivations for attending the arts and their hopes for the evolution of the arts organizations they love. Research findings from Slover Linett will provide the basis for facilitated discussion.

Values-Based Fundraising
Opera companies are committed to creating inclusive experiences for all audiences, yet many traditional fundraising practices are increasingly perceived as barriers. Development experts will discuss ways companies can align their fundraising with their values in order to be more welcoming to all.

Unwritten Rules
The organizational culture and traditional practices of every opera company are governed by unwritten rules that shape the way board members oversee the work of the organization and how they relate to one another. Many of these unwritten rules inhibit the engagement of new members. In this session, trustees will be asked to identify some of these rules and evaluate their alignment with organizational values and goals.

The Life of the Artist
Opera artists have faced overwhelming challenges over the last two years of cancelled performances. At the same time, they have led the field forward to the discovery of new forms of creativity and adoption of digital platforms as important elements of opera production. Guest artists will share their insights and hopes for the field.

Facilitated Discussion
Attendees will be invited to submit questions and topics for discussion in advance of the meeting. Sessions dedicated to facilitated discussion will engage all members in peer learning around these points of inquiry.



  • $395 Member
  • $470 Non-Member (includes membership)
Register by Monday, September 26

The National Trustee Forum is part of OPERA America's National Trustee Weekend. Guests are invited to participate in other performances and activities throughout the weekend.

Use the buttons below to register online or click here to download a printable registration form.

For more information, contact us at Membership@operaamerica.org or 646.699.5266.