The wider context for Arts Council support of opera in 2011-2013 is set out in the strategic overview document Developing the Arts in Ireland: Arts Council Strategic Overview 2011-2013 (PDF, 0.22 MB). There the Arts Council outlines its work and sets out the key strategic principles that will inform its funding and other decisions in the next few years.

Future provision of opera

On 11 May 2011 the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan TD wrote to the Arts Council advising that the Council should assume full responsibility for all opera provision and implementation. The Arts Council is pleased that clarity has been provided on this issue and during September/October the Council consulted with the opera sector and other stakeholders to listen to and reflect on their views prior to deciding how best to proceed.

A new approach to supporting opera in 2012

In December 2011, the Arts Council adopted a new policy (DOC, 0.10 MB)  on opera which sets out how it now intends to promote and develop opera in Ireland. In line with the Council’s approach to supporting other artforms, the policy is rooted in supporting and enabling opera artists and practitioners to connect with the public.

Mindful of the constraints faced during a period of economic downturn and diminished public funding, the Council intends to deliver on this policy over the medium term (4/5 years commencing in 2012) by supporting indigenous production and presentation of opera and by directly supporting the individual opera artist or practitioner.

Support for the production and presentation of opera will involve continuing to support the work undertaken by two key funded organisations while providing additional and complementary opportunities that encourage the sector to explore new ways of working. The new funding opportunities comprise: 

  • a new Opera Production Award which is designed to encourage partnership-based proposals from those wishing to produce and present an opera at either main scale, medium scale or small scale
  • an Opera Projects Award which will focus on supporting partnership-based proposals to develop and/or produce a new work, initially at a small scale.

This approach is intended to create opportunities for audiences to enjoy indigenous productions of opera across a range of genres and scales including, it is envisaged, the presentation of larger scale work in Dublin and other cities. While open to application from both existing opera companies and new entrants, the new funding streams will prioritise high calibre artistic proposals that feature value adding partnerships between artists, producers and presenting venues. This prioritisation is intended to enhance the impact and value of the investment of public funding.

The new Opera Production Award will be offered twice during 2012. With the first round of funding decisions due in March 2012, it is intended that this will lead to a significant increase in the amount of opera produced in Ireland in 2012. Thereafter, commencing in 2012, Opera Production Award funding decisions will be taken once annually in July, thereby facilitating the production and presentation of opera in the following calendar year. This timeframe is intended to facilitate the forward planning of such work.

Application deadlines

  • The deadline for applications for the new Opera Production Award (i.e. for activity due to take place later in 2012) is Thursday 9 February 2012. For additional information on this award, please see the available funding section of the website The deadline for applications seeking funding for activities scheduled for 2013 is Thursday 17 May 2012.
  • Opera Project applications will be sought in advance of twin deadlines of Thursday 29 March (for activity scheduled to take place later in 2012) and Thursday 6 September 2012 (for activity scheduled to take place in the first half of 2013). Additional information on this award will be made available on the Arts Council website early in 2012.
  • Opera bursaries and travel and training awards will continue to be offered to individual practitioners. Applications for opera bursaries are due on Thursday 12 July 2012.

Three opera singers performing at Wexford Festival Opera
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The three gossips from The Ghost of Versailles by John Corigliano at Wexford Festival Opera, 2009 (Photo: Patrick Redmond).  

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