From the Director’s Desk: Charting A Path Forward
A blog series offering perspectives from various members of On Site Opera’s leadership team
“Charting A Path Forward”
by Piper Gunnarson, Executive Director
Over the past year, I have been honored to participate in the 2019 inaugural class of the Women’s Opera Network Mentorship Program, through which I was mentored by the indomitable Annie Burridge, General Director & CEO of Austin Opera. One of the wonderful aspects of this program is the opportunity for each participant to travel to her mentor’s home company for a few days of observation and discussion in the mentor’s professional environment. In September, I joined Annie in Austin, TX to gain some insight about how she leads strategic planning conversations with her staff, board, and patrons, as well as how our respective opera companies relate to our communities.
During my brief but exhilarating visit, Annie and I exchanged ideas about identifying institutional values, defining long-term objectives, and how the strategic planning process can support an opera organization, galvanizing its key stakeholders around common goals. We also had lively conversations about the role opera can play in its community when I joined Annie for a family open-house at Austin’s Long Center for Performing Arts, an event that showcased the variety of performing arts opportunities for the city’s audiences of all ages. As we discussed the power of opera to connect people through music and story-telling, I was very proud to tell Annie about On Site Opera’s recent production of Morning Star, which not only animated an historic space in NYC (the Museum at Eldridge Street), but also celebrated the rich history of NYC’s immigrant communities and its cultural diversity. I was also thrilled to tell her about OSO’s upcoming production of Amahl and the Night Visitors, a true community collaboration that has OSO partnering with several NYC organizations that serve the homeless. These productions have sparked enthralling conversations within OSO’s leadership about how we can take our mission of site-specific opera to new heights through a deeper connection within our community.
The idea of community connection has been hovering in my own mind lately, as the staff and board of On Site Opera weigh its plans for the next few years of the organization’s growth. New opportunities continue to crop up left and right to create site-specific opera in exciting venues nationwide, as well as with community partners around NYC. On Site Opera is in the very fortunate position of being able to look ahead at how our artistic programming can grow and what our role in the opera field can become. In the coming months, we plan to embark on our organization’s strategic planning process to chart out our goals for the next few years and for long-term sustainability. We look forward to inviting our devoted OSO family and friends along on this journey of discovery and innovation!