How do you expand an impactful program?

Teaching artists prepping for LA Opera's Elementary In-School Opera Program

Teaching artists and LA Opera staff prepping for LA Opera’s Elementary In-School Opera Program

LA Opera believes in sharing the transformative power of opera with the Los Angeles community. As a result, the company places education and community engagement at the core of its mission. In the past sixteen years, LA Opera has more than tripled its outreach programs. The programs have expanded beyond their original target, K-12 students, to serve many more members of the Los Angeles community, including teachers, veterans, families and seniors. Whether at LA Opera’s home in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion or in neighborhoods across Los Angeles County, LA Opera remains committed to maintaining and growing the programs that reach hundreds of thousands in the community. How does a non-profit build and maintain such programs? Well, one reason is partnerships.

While the generous support of many donors and foundations has helped make these programs possible, to further extend its programming and to better serve the community, LA Opera adopted partnerships as a vital strategy.

“We asked ourselves, ‘What does LA Opera have that is so beautiful and unique and what are the many ways somebody needs it?’ Opera is a collaborative art form. Partnerships reflect our art form, so it is only natural that this model would help further LA Opera’s mission of sharing opera with the Los Angeles community,” says Stacy Brightman, Vice President of Education and Community Engagement.

LA Opera spent the next few years meeting with a variety of organizations in Los Angeles to see what LA Opera could offer. Over the past fifteen years, the company has built collaborations with hundreds of organizations including The Mariachi Conservatory, the County of Los Angeles Public Library, and several schools in the district. Through these partnerships, LA Opera has created many  impactful programs, including The Zarzuela Project, Opera Tales Tour, and In-School Opera. As of a result of these partnerships that engage the community with opera, LA Opera fulfills a central goal of making the art form accessible to all.

LA Opera is not the only organization bringing community outreach ideas to the table. The company creates programs in a truly collaborative fashion, working with our partners to determine the needs of their constituents and then sharing ideas of how opera can be showcased at their venues, or can have a meaningful impact on their students. This approach ensures the needs of the community are reflected in LA Opera’s programming and informs how the programs should evolve and where they should expand.

What does this expanded engagement look like?

Thousands of voices joining in song during the final moments of a community opera at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. More than 2,000 students experiencing a dress rehearsal of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. Fifty children and teens rehearsing and performing an opera exploring social justice themes. Over 137,000 students, teachers, and families, experiencing LA Opera programming this past year across more than twenty-five programs – a hundred thousand more people than when the company first shifted its strategy to focus on partnerships. Overall, more people experienced opera through LA Opera’s education and community engagement programs, than by solely coming to a performance. That’s the power of partnership.

For more information about LA Opera’s education and community engagement programs, visit LAOpera.org/EduCom.

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LA Opera is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the greater good.
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