Project information

Changing the face of opera....

Create socially relevant opera for 21C Britain by placing diverse international artists and local volunteer performers at the centre of the work. High Quality. Maximum Participation = Artistic and Social Impact

January 2016 - April 2016

Charity information: Birmingham Opera Company

Birmingham Opera Company logo
  • Need


    To tackle the barriers to participation in opera characterised by the lack of diversity of adult participants as opera audiences and performers.


    Reach out to over 1000 non-opera goers in their own communities to engage them and offer them the chance to make their mark on opera. Mentored and trained by professional singers, directors and choreographers, over 100 diverse volunteers from all backgrounds and interests will then present British masterpiece Henry Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, led by international opera director Graham Vick and alongside a diverse international artists.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Engage 500 diverse adults in opera with over 100 volunteers mentored to perform Purcell's "Dido"


    » Reach out to Birmingham's communities through our unique networks to provide free performances and taster sessions \"on the doorstep\".
    » Provide step by step training and mentoring to volunteers who will perform alongside international artists as singers actors and dancers in the show.

    What success will look like

    We will monitor numbers and background and evaluate depth of experience for individual volunteers, professional artists and partner social/ voluntary organisations.

  • Impact


    In 2015, we won The International Opera Award for Best Production.We will continue to lead the way in our industry to show how participation and diversity can make art more resonant.
    Each participant carries the experience beyond the project- typically with the following results
    - 92% try new things
    - 87% have become more confident
    - 27% decided to start a training course
    - 50% have gone to an event or exhibition they wouldn’t have gone to
    - 57% have become involved in a community project


    We don’t engage the "hard to reach" participants - in the last year we have worked with over 60 partner organisations and maintain links with each of them.

    Artistic quality is low- mitigated by engaging international opera director and Artistic Director Graham Vick and an experienced team.


    We will give monthly updates to donors via email with a complete evaluation at the end of the project.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £20,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £10,000 Reaching Out towards engaging five hundred adults in their own communities
      £10,000 Inviting In towards volunteer chorus actor and dancer recruitment and rehearsal venue, training and travel expenses
  • Background


    Reaching out -in the Districts of Birmingham concentrating on priority districts and hard to reach groups- we provide bespoke activities constructed in collaboration with the client organisation/community/ participants

    Inviting in - city centre- we'll assemble in a "neutral" city centre venue for rehearsals reimbursing travel to participants.

    Performances will be held in a "found space" to be announced early 2016.


    Our recent project hit the following targets 26% of participants were aged 0-19 years old, 30% were aged 20-34 years old and 44% were aged 35+. 19% would described themselves as having a disability, 57% of participants were white, 43% were BAME and there was an even split between male and female participants. 90% of these participants were new to opera.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Over the last 15 years we have grown a unique model with participatory opera succeeding at the highest industry level- this year recognised with the International Opera Award for Best Production.

    In the feedback from these participants, 88% felt better or healthier for participating, 92% are trying new things, 78% have developed a more active social life, 89% have gained a better understanding of other people's ideas and 93% are happier and 87% are more confident. 100% were glad they took part

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Graham Vick

    Opera Director and Artistic Director

    Ron Howell

    Choreographer and Movement Coach

    Jon Laird

    Chorus Master

    Richard Willacy

    Executive Director

The Ice Break 2015

The Ice Break 2015