Imogen Burgess, 7 June 2015

Bigger opera companies looking to small companies for inspiration

Difference of scales for production of newly composed work

Small opera companies are niche and not in competition, so they should share more - skills, funding, Producing high quality work will get a company noticed by bigger companies

Site specific vs touring productions. A venue changes the nature of the production.

Pros and cons of this.

Are smaller opera companies serving the sector - do artist or producer led companies do this better?

Contemporary opera is stuck in urban locations - we should tour it as a double decker with another company so share theatres during a run, bus, accommodation etc.

Create a similar organisation to ‘Arts Admin’ (for dance)for opera - skill sharing.

Could small companies get together to get a permanent building for use - hot desking.

Sense of permanence.

Differing ideas of what a producer is - business leader. Creative producer has ideas and facilitates them.

Do companies need to decide on a priority between audience development or artist development?

Is the killing off of the bottom of the pyramid (small companies) eventually going to impact the top? Importance of gaining experience in smaller companies etc.

ROH develoment department - could they support smaller companies more widely?

Link scheme only focuses on small number of companies but could potentially do small things for a bigger number.

Set up a producer network and hold action learning sessions/ networking/ advice on fundraising/ ideas pitching sessions etc from people working in larger companies.

Small companies to share marketing - give a stamp of approval.

More established producer mentoring young producers.

Is the success of a producer to do with gender? Session attended only by women and men who came and sat and listened for a short period and said nothing. Do they go a different route?

Small companies could take their contemporary work to mid scale regional theatres - good platform and developing an audience.

Big opera companies would have a web page/ page in programme/ emails about fringe opera compaies, what they are doing and how to support them.

Comments: 4

Lynn Binstock, 8 June 2015

Thanks for writing this up Imogen, and to all who shared, particularly on the idea of establishing some kind of fringe opera network.

A few things to add:

- loved Jean's remark: Let's think of building up a square (i.e. raising the level of the fringe companies at the bottom of the pyramid instead of accepting pyramid)

- I recommend HOUSE THEATRE for resources & training

- consider showcases or proposals to industry audience from fringe producers

- action/learning sessions with visitors from big companies

- investigate what OMTF can help facilitate

- involve

- support from MU?

- approach opera officer at ACE?

- property guardianship as an option for space

Edward Lambert, 8 June 2015

I was one of the ‘men’ who attended towards the end of the session when it's harder to make a contribution. We do sometimes listen, you know! In fact, I was being a bee and realised there was a lot that was exciting in your conversation.

I've written a more generalised report on the weekend, gleaned from other groups discussing this topic as well: “Practical Outcomes for Fringe Opera?”

Caroline Forster Anderson, 12 June 2015

Hi, I’m Caroline from the Opera and Music Theatre Forum (OMTF)

This report, the overview Practical Outcomes for Fringe Opera? and Why Big Dogs and Little Dogs should be Friends, all raise important issues about infrastructure which have been the subject of much debate over the years. Some have raised more questions than answers in discussion but things change and it may well be time to revisit them. If any participants to this session would like to explore the issues raised in these reports further, let's arrange an informal, open discussion session, either following the event described below or on another occasion. Just mail me at [email protected]

A quick note to make here is that there is communication and co-operation between the big companies and the smaller scale sector, for example this D&D event itself, plus The Royal Opera House, Glyndebourne and ENO have all hosted events and conferences for OMTF which was established to promote the work of, advocate for, and provide a network of help, particularly to the smaller companies (


Many of the big companies will be sharing their skills and expertise at the Fundraising event we are running in London on July 31 - key contributors will be The Royal Opera House, Welsh National Opera, Glyndebourne and Scottish Opera. It takes place in London during the Tête a Tête Festival - more details on the front page of our website.

We are a membership organisation but we have open events available to all and we keep in touch with the whole sector via Twitter – so do follow us on @OMTF!

Caroline Forster Anderson, 19 June 2015

OMTF is arranging an informal get-together in London to discuss some or all of these issues from 6pm on July 9 – do get in touch if you would like to join us!

Contact me at [email protected] Pub venue tbc