Opera on the Avalon (OOTA) stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement and Black, Indigenous, and First Nations communities in Newfoundland and Labrador, across the country, and around the globe in the fight for justice.
The age in which we are living will be pivotal in our history and we must take this time to address the systemic issues that have led to continued under-representation and oppression. Societal passivity, ignorance, and insensitivity are factors that diminish, disenfranchise, and actively harm people of colour, particularly Black, Indigenous, and First Nations populations.
Any statement of solidarity must acknowledge our complicity in the industry’s history of white supremacy, institutionalised racism, and appropriation of BIPOC culture. As an organization, we must now look at how we have operated in the past, how our values have evolved with our growing understanding of racial injustice, and how to do our part in making the future – both within and outside of the arts – a better and safer place. We are focused on ensuring that our future hiring practices reflect the diverse population of our communities. This commitment will extend across the organization to include our artists, creative teams, administrative staff and the appointment of our Board of Directors. Respectful and visible diversity creates inclusive, dynamic art and provides all members of our community with the chance to be heard and represented.
Further, we recognize that artists and arts organizations are in a unique position to openly discuss, critique, and dismantle systems of inequality and oppression. We must use our platform to tell new and relevant stories about and by those individuals and groups who have been historically underrepresented and excluded from the opera community. By approaching opera through different perspectives, we will consciously engage in conversations about anti-oppression to inform the work that we create and produce.
We encourage artists and the community to reach out and share ideas about how we can effectively create change in our organization and the performing arts sector. In addition to our standard means of communication, we plan to appoint an anonymous individual to whom artists, audiences, and volunteers can submit personal experiences of bias and racism at OOTA, as well as positive accounts of belonging and inclusion, so that we may address the former and increase the latter. All voices are welcome on this journey in creating a safe place for our artists to create and perform in and for our audience to participate in.
Bringing the magic of opera to the children of our community, Opera on the Avalon has inspired and delighted students across Newfoundland with operas adapted or created for young audiences. The operas are performed by our Young and Studio Festival Artists and an informal question-and-answer period with the cast immediately follows each performance.
The mission: To provide a cultural and educational opportunity to our community’s school-aged children, at no cost to them or their schools.
The goal: Bringing the magic of opera to the children of our community, Opera on the Avalon has inspired and delighted students across Newfoundland with operas adapted or created for young audiences. The operas are performed by our Young and Studio Festival Artists and an informal question-and-answer period with the cast immediately follows each performance.
Did you know?
The number of children we reach each year is contingent on our ability to raise the funds necessary to pay for the programs, thus the generosity of patrons and donors is not only appreciated, but essential to its continuation.
Opera on the Avalon’s Symposium Series provides a forum to explore issues pertaining to our productions and communities. It is designed to highlight issues surrounding the arts within an international context, which we achieve through panel discussions and audience conversation around artistic, social and political issues relating to OOTA’s mainstage productions. Panelists include some of the nation’s leading cultural, social, and political activists and artists.
In 2017, the Symposium Series featured two discussions: Women in the Arts and Forgiveness and Reconciliation in the 21st Century. Women in the Arts addressed a challenge we have grappling through our hiring policy, aimed at achieving gender parity, and Forgiveness and Reconciliation in the 21st Century connected to our Canadian premiere of Dead Man Walking.
Upcoming Symposium topics will include The Beothuks In Newfoundland and Labrador, Social Emotional Learning and Bullying Prevention, LGBTQQAI2S+* and Allies, Arts and Our Environment.
In partnership with the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy, Opera on the Avalon has commenced a new public outreach initiative called Opera Unity. This program coordinates visits by local artists and OOTA staff at hospitals, nursing homes, treatment centres, and other facilities throughout the St. John’s metro area. These artists will perform for the residents of the facilities and repertoire will include classic opera, contemporary musical theatre, and popular music.
Opera on the Avalon believes that music can be a holistic treatment for health and well-being and we are dedicated to ensuring live performances are accessible to all audiences.
As an organization, we must now look at how we have operated in the past, how our values have evolved with our growing understanding of racial injustice, and how we can do our part in making the future – both within and outside of the arts – a better and safer place.
We must use our platform to tell new and relevant stories about and by those who have been historically underrepresented and excluded from the opera community.
We encourage artists and community members to please reach out and share ideas about how we can effectively create change in our organization and the performing arts sector. All voices are welcome on this journey to create a fully inclusive environment and demolish oppression in the arts.
We respectfully acknowledge the land on which we gather as the ancestral homelands of the Beothuk [bee-oth-uck], whose culture has now been erased forever. We also acknowledge the island of Ktaqmkuk [dah-gmm-gook] (Newfoundland) as the unceded, traditional territory of the Beothuk and the Mi’kmaq [mig-maw]. And we acknowledge Labrador as the traditional and ancestral homelands of the Innu [in-ew] of Nitassinan [ne-tass-eh-nen], the Inuit [in-yoo-eet] of Nunatsiavut [nu-nat-see-ah-vut], and the Inuit of NunatuKavut [nu-nah-tuhk-ah-vut]. We recognize all First Peoples who were here before us, those who live with us now, and the seven generations to come. As First Peoples have done since time immemorial, we strive to be responsible stewards of the land and to respect the cultures, ceremonies, and traditions of all who call it home. As we open our hearts and minds to the past, we commit ourselves to working in a spirit of truth and reconciliation to make a better future for all.
Opera on the Avalon
78 O’Leary Avenue
St. John’s, NL, A1B 2C7
(709) 738 1322
Opera on the Avalon is funded in part by The Government of Canada, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the City of St. John’s, Canada Council for the Arts, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council.