Specialist forums have been integral to Opera Europa’s growth since Nicholas Payne took the lead of the organisation, with the launch of our first one – the Technical & Production forum in January 2004 during our Copenhagen conference. With a dozen focused thematic groups, our forums allow for a deeper involvement of our member companies. They facilitate peer-to-peer discussions, exchanges of knowledge and best practices.
More than ever, they are a true support network. Last season, the groups met online for more frequent meetings and proved that sharing experiences – even difficult ones – are vitally important in keeping a sense of cohesion and support among our members, during this sometimes intensely isolated time.
There was a growing request for different professional angles, and new forums were created. The Chorus Managers and Orchestra Managers forums were added recently specifically to look at issues relating to the practical details of rehearsals and stage/pit organisation during the pandemic.
The latest to be created is the Dramaturgy forum. A steering group has formed over the past months, consisting of Patricie Částková (Brno), Timothée Picard (Aix-en-Provence), Katharina Ortmann (Bayerische Staatsoper), Angela Fodale (Teatro Massimo Palermo), and Hedda Høgåsen-Hallesby (Oslo). The first meeting will take place online on 21 January and focus on programme books and their alternatives, and plans to meet in person shall be announced by then. If you wish to participate, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The first groups to gather again in person were the Artistic Administration & Producing and Techset forums in Macerata last July.
Sustainability became the main topic as interest in both groups was understandably high. The Techset forum is continuing the dialogue and plans to organise an online meeting in the new year. An in-person meeting is foreseen in Antwerp in May.
The Sustainability forum - ever more relevant - aims to facilitate a transversal conversation amongst all levels within theatres. The conversation started last week during the Next Stage Sustainability call.
The Marketing & Communication forum met online a few weeks ago with the specific objective to see how the forum can support its members. As with most areas within a theatre, the pandemic has been especially trying on this department as the struggle to keep connected to the audience during closures while managing ever changing schedules and restrictions have taken their toll on the mental health of the teams. The forum will connect a few times online during the year on one-off topics and plans to meet in person in Brussels at the end of March to discuss Data strategies, collection and management.
The Human Resources forum dealt with pandemic related issues over the past 18 months and will now define a new focus on equal opportunities and leadership. The next meeting is planned to happen in person in Helsinki this May 2022. Hanna Fontana, host at Finnish National Opera and chair of the forum for 10 years, will take the opportunity to hand over the baton to someone new. The whole Opera Europa team is profoundly grateful for her consistent, thorough and highly valued work.
Finally, the Costume, Make-up & Wig forum is also planning a series of online workshops and tutorial meetings on various topics and will meet at the end of April for a live meeting to continue their work on co-productions best practises, measuring standards and the costume bible.