Advocacy Campaign

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus, but a moulder of consensus
Martin Luther King, 1968
Opera Europa is a democratic association which operates according to the will of the majority of its members.  At the same time, it has a responsibility as a supranational body to coordinate diverse views and to promote opera in the wider world.
More than a decade ago in Paris, we launched the European Opera Days, designed to open up theatres to new audiences.  Today, many opera houses offer their own Open Days to welcome the public within and outside their buildings.  On our return to Paris this autumn, it was resolved to refresh the formula with a new campaign to advocate opera in our communities.
Its purpose is to reach beyond committed operagoers to people for whom the arts are not a central experience in life but who nonetheless help to pay for them through their taxes.  Its aim is to build a broad consensus of social and political support for culture.
Opera is important to us but it is only one part of a culture which embraces art, music, dance, theatre, film and all creative activities.  It may have derived from Europe, but it is no longer confined to Europe.  We belong to a movement which seeks to enrich people’s lives throughout the world.
Education lies at the heart of the process.  To quote Kelly Pollock, from the Center for Creative Arts in St Louis:
The true purpose of arts education is not necessarily to create more dancers or artists.  [It’s] to create more complete human beings who are critical thinkers, who have curious minds, who can lead productive lives.
Everybody has a voice.  Making it sing is a basic human function reaching back to the dawn of humanity.  We look to share the joy of singing and music and theatre, whether as participant or spectator.
Our motto is: Opera sings for society.
How best may opera contribute?  Our proposal is for a World Opera Day or World Song Day, after the example of World Theatre Day or Sport Relief Day.  Its purpose would be outward-looking rather than inward-looking.  What practical actions may opera companies and operagoers take to raise awareness and financial and social support for others in need?

The foremost need is education in the broadest sense: youth music-making; craft apprenticeships; worthwhile job opportunities for young people.  Over the next months, we will investigate how most effectively to channel such support to those who most need it.  
To that end, we are exploring partnerships and seeking expert professional advice on how best to plan, promote and secure the independence of such a campaign.
The campaign aims to build on the success of last April’s World Opera Forum in Madrid, when joint Advocacy of Opera emerged as one of the most urgent global issues.  We are therefore building on our existing alliance with our colleagues in Opera America and Ópera Latinoamérica (OLA), and aspire to embrace Asia, Africa and Oceania too.   
Initial exchanges with the North and South American associations have identified the fall as their prime choice of campaigning time.  Opera America’s National Opera Week will launch on 25 October in 2019, which by happy coincidence will be the mid-point of Opera Europa’s autumn conference when many members will gather together.
That date 25 October is already celebrated as International Artists Day and is the birthday of Pablo Picasso, 
perhaps the last century’s most iconic artist. It is also the anniversary of two composers who have created the most enduringly popular operas and operettas: Georges Bizet’s Carmen and Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus.  Further to enhance the international appeal of 25 October, it is also the birthday of two universally loved singers: Russian Galina Vishnevskaya and American Barbara Cook.
Such a confluence of the stars must be an omen!
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’
Martin Luther King (again)
Action plan

November 2018 

Selection of Opera Europa Board advisory group

Initial Contacts with Opera America and OLA

December 2018

Consultation with expert advisors

Contact with ITI and UNESCO

January 2019

Work on finessing World Opera Day plan

7 February 2019

Opera Europa Board reviews plan in Barcelona

22/23 February 2019

22/23 February 2019 Opera Europa Board reviews plan in Barcelona

Opera America Board meeting in New York

March 2019

Outline of plan to members in spring newsletter

18-20 March 2019 

Fundraising forum in Milan

27 April 2019 

Revised plan to General Assembly in Antwerp

Summer 2019

Detailed work preparing campaign

25 October 2019 

Launch of campaign at autumn conference

December 2019

Conclusion of campaign for 2019