In January we announced we would be commissioning an independent analysis of the opera and music theatre sector in England.
Let's Create is our ten-year strategy which we use to shape all our policy work and investment decisions. However from time to time we complement our strategy with research that looks at particular parts of our cultural sector in detail. We use the results of those studies to shape our future investment and policy in those sectors. Recent examples of these studies include our work on producing theatre (read the report here and read our response here) and literary fiction (read the report here and read our response here).
Opera and music theatre play a major role in delivering Let's Create. This analysis will help us, and the sector, look in more detail at some of the questions that emerged following our National Portfolio Organisation decisions. We are confident that this analysis will allow us to build strong foundations for our work in supporting all parts of this hugely important sector going forward.
To undertake this analysis, we will commission an independent research organisation to help us gather information - through desk research and, importantly, through conversation with the sector - to develop a detailed picture of the state of opera and music theatre in this country. We plan for this initial piece of work to take place from later this Spring until the Autumn, at which point we will publish the report we've received along with a statement from us, clearly setting out how we plan to respond.
In addition to the external research organisation, we have appointed a small three-person external Reference Group to act as critical friends' as we undertake this work.
We will want to talk to as many organisations as possible in the course of this work, including NPOs as well as those who are not in receipt of regular public funding, alongside freelancers who work in opera and music theatre. We also think it's important to engage with organisations and practitioners whose work intersects with opera and music theatre, but who are not part of the sector, such as venues. We will be in touch about opportunities for these discussions soon after we have finalised who will be undertaking the research.
We've posted the opportunity to tender for the research on our procurement site, Delta. If you would like to be considered to be the research organisation for this piece of work, please find more information on the tender process here. You can also a read a PDF version of the tender document here.
Who are the Reference Group?
Fiona Allan is an international performing arts leader. She commenced in the role of CEO at Opera Australia in November 2021, and since then has worked with the board on the creation of a new organisational strategy that refocusses OA as an opera company for a 21st century Australia. She has managed the transition of artistic leadership and led a global search for a new Artistic Director.
Prior to joining Opera Australia Fiona spent 18 years working in the UK in senior artistic and executive leadership roles. Most recently she was Artistic Director & CEO of Birmingham Hippodrome, a large multi-genre arts centre which is also home to four resident dance organisations and presented regular seasons of opera. Before that, she was CEO of Curve Theatre, a producing theatre creating new theatre and musical productions from its purpose-built rehearsal and performance spaces in Leicester, and touring these around the UK. Her first role in the UK was as Artistic Director of Wales Millennium Centre, the national performing arts centre based in Cardiff.
Anthony Blackstock's career has centred on the running and appraising of performing arts producers. He has acted as executive, trustee, assessor and consultant. He was Chief Financial Officer of The Arts Council and then The National Theatre. Subsequent assignments have included Interim Resources Director of English National Opera, financial consultant to Chichester Festival Theatre, Interim Finance Director of The South Bank Centre, advisor to the Royal Shakespeare Company on options for its redevelopment and on governance, consultant to The Arts Council's 2013 analysis of Opera and Ballet, consultant to Guildhall School of Music & Drama and Trinity Laban, business modeller at Factory International, associate producer at Le Thtre du Chtelet and (pro bono) governance advisor to a privately funded opera company. He served as chair of the finance and/or audit committees of Youth Music, The Roundhouse, Poole Arts Centre and Central School of Speech and Drama.
Jan Younghusband is an award-winning TV, Film commissioner and producer and author. Classically trained, she started her career in opera production at Glyndebourne and went on to work as assistant to Sir Peter Hall on his opera productions including the Ring in Bayreuth. After a move to TV in the 1990s Jan converted her love of opera into making films for TV and producing coverage of live operas for cinema and TV which expressed opera for the broader audience. She also commissioned new operas for TV and documentary series with unique insights into the story of opera, presented and featuring leading figures in the industry. Jan was Head of Arts Commissioning at Channel Four for ten years and then Head of Music and Events TV at the BBC, commissioning across all genres of music.