A $2.6 million funding boost will allow Opera Queensland to plan three mainstage productions from 2019.
Image: The Merry Widow. Picture by James Rogers
The Queensland Government has committed $2.16 million in additional funding over four years to help Opera Queensland grow, invest in new initiatives and return to three mainstage Brisbane seasons from 2019.
This is the first major announcement for Opera Queensland’s new executive management team and was delivered by Queensland Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch at Opera Queensland’s opening performance of its 2018 season, the sold-out Reprise at QAGOMA.
Combining classical music with modern art, including new compositions by Paul Grabowsky and Megan Washington, Reprise is a taste of what’s to come from Opera Queensland's new Artistic Director Patrick Nolan.
Nolan, who has promised a 2019 season themed around classical, contemporary and future, said the impact of the new funding would be immediate.
'We can now plan for three mainstage productions in 2019. With this public recognition and affirmation, we can look to the future, confident that the State Government is invested in not only sustaining, but also growing our artform,' Nolan said.
'As a major arts organisation we believe it’s essential to engage with artists working around us now, and the commissioning of new works, as well as engaging with Queensland’s smaller arts companies, is going to be central to our artistic programming.
'There’s a good reason why so many people in the arts are moving to Queensland and I applaud the Queensland Government for showing such dedicated support for the arts across the state,' Nolan said.
Read: OperaQ’s new artistic director will woo new artists and audiences
Executive Director Sandra Willis said the funding would ensure Opera Queensland continues to bring opera to audiences across the state.
'We take the responsibility of bringing opera in all its various forms to audiences across the vast and diverse state of Queensland very seriously and this lift in funding means we now have the ability to be even bolder as an organisation,' Willis said.
'We can leverage this funding to secure more philanthropic and corporate support, opening doors to a wealth of creative opportunities.' She added: 'This announcement is, we hope, the first of many good news stories as we continue to develop our strategies for the coming years. We aim to make opera that is powerful and bold in the scope of its imagination, and breathtaking in its execution.'
A recommendation that Opera Queensland's funding be increased in order to give the company breathing space in which to return to a stable footing was one of 118 recommendations made in 2016's National Opera Review, which effectively put the company on notice.
Read: Opera companies face major overhaul
Should the company's position not improve within three years, the National Opera Review recommended Opera Queensland lose its AMPAG status.
In her exit interview with ArtsHub last year, former Opera Q Artistic Director Lindy Hume said the company's financial position had already turned around after a few rough years.
‘It was definitely a moment of existential crisis … and it was certainly a difficult process, and it was made slightly more dramatic than probably was helpful at the time because it just made us look like a complete basket case, which we weren’t. We were in the very process at the time of turning it all around.
‘In fact while that narrative was going on we were posting our first surplus for 10 years or thereabouts, and we were doing productions that were being sold around the world and also doing all of our stuff in regional Queensland,’ Hume said.
Read: Exit interview: Lindy Hume
Forthcoming for Opera Queensland during 2018 is Graeme Murphy’s critically-acclaimed production of The Merry Widow starring the popular and charismatic performers, David Hobson and Natalie Christie Peluso, followed by Don Giovanni with international star Duncan Rock in the title role.
This year the company will also stage a regional tour of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Ruddigore, or the Witch’s Curse!, where the chorus will be made up of local performers from each of the six cities the production visits.
First published on