Introduction

Opera Europa is the leading service organisation for professional opera companies and opera festivals throughout Europe.  It currently serves 176 member companies from 42 different countries. Its main office is in Brussels, where it is registered as a cultural organization in compliance with Belgian law. Its governing Board is made up of 15 members chosen from the general membership and elected for 3 year terms.  An executive Director, a Manager and two Coordinators are responsible for managing the organization and for responding to members’ needs.


Membership subscriptions are set by the full membership assembly and are presently €2,700 per calendar year. This amount includes full access to all the services of our partner Operabase Professional.

Conferences open to the general membership take place at least twice a year in alternating member cities.  Conference programmes focus on topics and developments of current practical interest, such as maximizing income, audience development, new technologies and new media, human resources, fundraising and PR/Marketing.  Conferences are further especially useful for developing contacts for Europe-wide co-productions.

Opera Europa’s information systems (website, database, mailing lists) offer:

  • one-stop, easy access to members’ websites
  • up-to-date lists of key staff to facilitate communication and participation
  • e-mail forums for specialist networking opportunities
  • a comprehensive and updated database of members’ future production plans
  • a collaborative marketplace for co-productions, rentals and exchanges
  • full access to the casting and production tools developed by Operabase
  • confidential financial profiles of many member companies

Opera Europa also offers reciprocal membership benefits with Opera America.

A quarterly newsletter keeps members informed of activities, conference programmes and professional issues affecting member companies.

 

Opera Europa Initiatives

The Board of Opera Europa has determined to prioritise several initiatives for the association's work over the next few years.

The welcome confirmation that Creative Europe has allocated almost 2 million € towards the Opera Vision project for the years 2017 to 2020 enables us to affirm more boldly that this development and extension of The Opera Platform will be one of Opera Europa’s prime objectives during the next three years.

Crucially, the partnership will be doubled from 15 to 30 participating theatres, of which 60% are new to the project; and the partnership will cover 19 instead of 12 European countries. Each of those partners will make an annual contribution towards the maintenance of the platform in a move towards matching EC funding and future sustainability.

Secondly, our aim, already being realised with TOP, is to open our free platform to contributions selected from non-partner members who have cleared rights for streaming. In order to facilitate this initiative, we have set aside a provision in the 2016 accounts to establish a small fund to help non-partners acquire those rights and to make Opera Vision more inclusive than its predecessor.
The free, content-rich, digital platform is the central element of Opera Europa’s advocacy of the art of opera. To that end, we are nurturing partnerships with other players in the cultural field, including broadcasters and educationalists. We intend to exploit the opportunities offered by the EC’s designated Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 to promote a year-long celebration of opera live and online.

That will also be the theme of the 12th edition of European Opera Days, which will take place between 4 and 13 May 2018.
A linked initiative will be the World Opera Forum in Madrid between 12 and 15 April, which will involve our partners at Opera America and Opera Latin America and a concentrated media campaign.


Alongside these advocacy initiatives, Opera Europa is determined to invest in others which are designed to strengthen its members’ professional capabilities. Three of them have been prioritised by the Board and were endorsed by the General Assembly in Kyiv, as summarised below.


One is a comprehensive Benchmarking exercise designed to gather objective and authoritative data which can be genuinely useful to member companies in assessing their performance in relation to their peers and in supporting their case with public and private stakeholders. Currently our databases are neither comprehensive nor up-to-date, by comparison with those of Opera America. Their field studies may help guide us towards our own model. It should not become too complicated for members to complete, but should establish measurement criteria for both quantity and quality. The plan is to conduct research during autumn 2017; analyse it for testing at a joint specialist forum meeting in Sofia between 22 and 24 March 2018; and make the results available to contributing members ahead of the June 2018 Conference in Zürich.


Opera for young people addresses the issue of the many ways by which opera may best engage with young audiences. Research will gather and compare best practices, not only in the field of opera. It is an opportunity for Directors to share ideas with our Education forum, which will increasingly influence our programme. We might target a joint conference on the subject for autumn 2018.


Professional training is a preoccupation of many members.
Our Opera Management Course will be in its fifth year this August in Lille, and has already yielded capable individuals for the sector. How may the course best be developed? Should we also be investing in sporadic training for more senior managers? Might some companies benefit by collaborating on staff exchange schemes? Opera Europa can act as coordinator and help secure transnational support for such initiatives.

The above are not intended as an exclusive list, but as an indication of what Opera Europa might do to strengthen member companies during the next years.