The Arts Council has adopted a new policy on opera which sets out how it intends to promote and develop opera in Ireland.
Speaking today, Pat Moylan, Chairman of the Arts Council said: "In the same way as the Council approaches its support to other artforms, our new policy is rooted in enabling the public to see the work of opera artists and those involved in producing opera and to widen the availability of opera to Irish audiences.
"In delivering our policy, we are aiming to combine our continuing support and funding to key Irish opera organisations with some new developments which will create exciting new opportunities for artists, producers and venues to work together in creating opera, ideally via new types of artistic collaborations and creative partnerships."
The Arts Council's new policy on opera arises from a request from the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in May this year, that the Arts Council should resume responsibility for opera policy and its implementation.
Prior to deciding how best to proceed, the Arts Council met with a broad cross section of the opera sector in the autumn of 2011 and listened to the broad range of views and ideas that this process generated.
The new policy is distinctive in its approach (from previous policies) because it is focused on building partnerships in Irish opera in the short to medium-term that in the long-term, will benefit the sector - composers, artists, performers and audiences. Chairman Pat Moylan added that the policy: "Aims to enable a distinctive indigenous voice to emerge in opera in Ireland through composition and performance."
Mindful of some constraints faced during this economic downturn, the Council intends to deliver on its policy over the medium term (4/5 years commencing next year) by supporting indigenous production and presentation of opera and by continuing to directly support the individual opera artist through opera bursaries and travel and training awards.
Support for the production and presentation of opera by the Arts Council will involve continuing to support the work undertaken by two key funded organisations, (Wexford Festival Opera and Opera Theatre Company), while providing additional and complementary opportunities that aim to encourage the opera sector to explore new ways of working.
These new funding opportunities are:
- 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 opportunities will prioritise high calibre artistic proposals that feature a partnership approach between artists, producers and 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.
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 Arts Council's 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.