Strength in numbers: Indie Opera T.O.Op-ed
Hi Schmopera! My name is Stephanie Applin and I am the Project Manager of Indie Opera Toronto, the collective of independent opera companies in Toronto.
Indie Opera T.O. recently launched our website, a project made possible by the Building Opera Audiences grant from Opera America. I’ve been working on the site with the designers, Tennis, and collaborators for about a year so I am thrilled to share the site and some behind-the-scenes details with you!
Indie Opera has three goals with the launch of the site:
- To create a central repository of information and details of each company and their shows, highlighting the creative teams behind each company,
- To showcase the organic network of companies that exists in Toronto,
- To promote collaboration between and cross-promotion of the member companies.
The idea for Indie Opera Toronto began with Michael Mori, Artistic Director of Tapestry Opera, who, after discovering that there were more independent companies in Toronto than he realized, suggested that everyone get together, get to know each other and chat.
These informal potlucks grew into an internal shared calendar to help us ensure that, whenever possible, we were not scheduling shows on top of one another. Once we started having regular meetings we decided to apply for the Opera America grant and get more organized on social media. The website is a reflection of the scene in Toronto!
The launch of Indie Opera Toronto includes profiles of each company’s history and creative teams, brand new photography by Dahlia Katz, integrated social media for the Indie Opera platforms and each company’s own social media outlets, an integrated calendar for all upcoming productions and short films by Darren Bryant: one film profiling each individual company and two shorts on the collective.
One of the aspects of Indie Opera Toronto that I love, and which drives me professionally, is how collaborative and un-siloed we are as a collective, as the arts can often operate in their own silos. Each company produces a handful of times a year (1 - 4 times, with larger and more established companies like Tapestry performing most often) so if you familiar with or discover one company in, say, October and you love what they do you may need to wait 6 months or a year to see their next show.
But thanks to our internal planning, there is likely another Indie Opera show the next month; so, taken from an annual calendar perspective, there’s an indie opera show almost every month of the year! Coupled with the fact that each company has its own unique and distinctive mission statement there is no overlap or direct competition, this allows us to operate in a very unique way, encouraging, supporting and driving each other as professional colleagues.
This type of collaboration works to our advantage as, instead of competing for the same slice of the opera “pie” (e.g. audiences, funding etc.) we work together to make the pie bigger.
I invite you to visit Indie Opera Toronto and learn more about the unique companies and passionate people who drive this vibrant renaissance of innovative opera and chamber music experiences and, of course, to make it out to shows!