Opera polarises opinion. As anyone who has seen the current Go Compare TV spots could tell you. To say it as elitist is a cliché, but it does have an exclusive reputation. In the past opera sponsors often perpetuated this image, but opera is now applying the same innovative approach to partnerships and accessibility as it has to its increasingly spectacular visual stagings. Financial necessity and visionary thinking are altering the landscape. Making opera more relevant and open is an expensive and challenging undertaking, so sponsors are increasingly seen as a key part of the solution.
Rachel Clarke, Director Of Four Sports, Arts & Sponsorship investigates.
Opera companies internationally are being forced to change, or to close their doors for good. Many opera houses and companies in their current state are not sustainable. A combination of factors, from the clichés that surround it and a perceived resistance to change, to high ticket prices, state cuts and the recession, are driving this new reality.
In New York opera attendances have fallen from 97% capacity in 1959 to around just 60% today. Demographics also make for bleak reading, as the average subscriber to the NYC Opera is now 55 years old and the average age for New York’s Metropolitan Opera Company is closer to 80. What’s more, The Met carries an accumulated deficit of $47m.
This reputed lack of interest in opera among the young has led some to conclude that the death of opera is imminent and others to focus their strategy as they seek innovative ways to revive it.
Other forms of art and culture, from musical theatre to museums, are seeing attendances rise, so can opera be pulled back from the margins of mainstream musical entertainment?
Can opera rock?
As an art form it has long had a heritage of creative risk taking and we are now witnessing an increase in original approaches to opera sponsor initatives that attempt to remove this veil of exclusivity, expand the genre’s reach, open up to more socially diverse groups and new audiences and reverse the decline.
Traditionally, opera sponsorship has been dominated by financial services partners and luxury products. These companies typically linked with opera to add a touch of arts-support to the corporate social responsibility programme and align with a property that boasts ‘excellence’, sophistication’ and ‘quality’ as key brand values in order to connect with AB1 consumers and to leverage luxury-led hospitality opportunities. So how this new wave of innovation affects artistic quality and integrity will be vital if it is to achieve long term success?
But what does this new landscape look like?
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This article was originally published in Activative Platform - www.activative.co.uk