Megan Miller, Opera Carolina’s director of marketing, knows that when people hear, “support the arts,” they automatically think: I’d better hold on to my wallet.
And they’re not wrong. Arts groups are always in fundraising mode, and COVID-19 has made the need to raise money greater than ever before.
But there are ways to support the opera without having to get out your credit card. “It’s not an easy time for anyone to reach into their pockets,” Miller said. (Although, to be clear, no one will stop you from donating, should you have the means and desire.)
“Our mission has always been to bring art out into the community,” said Miller. “In the past few years, we’ve had a big push to bring opera to unlikely places – churches, coffee shops, breweries. And COVID-19 has given us an opportunity to make good on that longtime pledge of making opera accessible to everyone.”
“We’ve always talked about accessibility and inclusion,” she said. “Our digital content – including our iStream series – is accessibility like we’ve never offered it before. It’s available online any time, and it’s free.”
The free programming isn’t just a benefit to fans. The staff enjoys it, too. “We are doing this with a joyful mindset,” Miller said. “We’d rather offer a big, lavish production in person, but we’re excited to do what we can at this precarious moment.”
Miller and her team have gotten creative about content offerings. For instance, #OCHappyHour was a weekly video series featuring opera singers making their favorite cocktails in the safety of their own kitchens.
In one episode, Baritone Kenneth Overton (who will perform in Douglas Tappin’s “I Dream” in the upcoming season) demonstrated from his New Jersey home how to make a grapefruit ‘ronatini, his quarantine cocktail of choice. “Nothin’ but love in this glass” is how he describes his creation.
The iStream digital concert series, another component of #OCathome, has proven so popular, it’s been extended. There was a special Juneteenth performance called “A Vision of Equity and Inclusion.” Miller promises more to come this fall.
Opera Carolina has gotten some notes, in the mail and online, from patrons who just want to say they miss the opera. “Our staff, casts and crews are so cheered whenever we hear from someone offering emotional support,” Miller said. “It’s one way to stay connected to arts groups you love without having to spend a dime.”
“We’ve also been asking opera lovers what they miss most,” she continued. “Many of them, especially Millennials, say they miss simply being able to introduce their friends to this great art form. We tell them they can still do that – they just need to tell their friends about our online programming.” It’s another way to support Opera Carolina without busting your budget.
Miller, who’s a trained opera singer herself, misses her pre-COVID life. “I miss the excitement and the beauty and chaos of a live production,” she said. “All performers love being on stage. It’s tough when a performer can’t perform. But being an artist myself, I see this as an opportunity. We’re being challenged to bring opera to people where they are. And we love being able to share opera – however we can.”
Learn more about Opera Carolina’s 2020/21 season at operacarolina.org. Follow along on Facebook and Instagram to get the best of opera at home. And should you be in a position to offer financial support , we thank you for your generosity.