WATCH: Christopher Koelsch Talks Bringing New Audiences To LA Opera

Christopher Koeslch (left), Graham Parker (center), Yael Greenberg (right)

Christopher Koeslch (left), Graham Parker (center), Yael Greenberg (right)

LA Opera President and CEO Christopher Koelsch participated in discussions at the inaugural Classical Evolution/Revolution Conference about how companies can find and keep new audiences for music.

The panel also included Yael Greenberg, Music Consultant, Kickstarter, and was moderated by Graham Parker, President of Universal Music Classics, USA.

Here are two takeaways from the discussion:

Artists and great works of art drive audiences.

Rather than focus on creating opera to specifically bring in a certain audience, LA Opera nurtures artists.

“While the audience is part of my concern, I consider my first responsibility to be to the community of artists,” says Koelsch. “By providing opportunities for artists, I therefore create an opening for an audience to connect with the art that is created by those individuals. There’s no programmatic decision that we make in which we have a specific audience in mind.”

He continued, “It is a fool’s errand to try to chase specific audiences with specific programming…LA Opera is about the democratization of the art form, and of trying to counter a lot of negative stereotypes about what opera is and who it is for…We are available for all audiences at any point in which they want to connect with us. I can’t tell whether someone’s conversion piece is going to be Götterdämmerung, or it’s going to be a piece we do for three-year-olds in our lobby. Either one, and everything in between, has the potential to convert someone into the secular religion of opera. I don’t want try to impose my feelings of what is going to be that tipping point for people. I just want to create great work and have the audience to show up for it.”

Audience ownership is key.

“[Kickstarter] is a platform for people to be able to bring any creative idea to life using community, using people in their life, using the wider audience of Kickstarter, which is now a complete platform for discovery,” says Greenberg.

Yael Greenberg discusses how the most successful campaigns on Kickstarter are the compelling ones – the campaigns that invite funders – really, future audience members – to come along for the ride and become producers of the art they want to see.

For the full panel discussion, check out the Facebook live here.

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