On Site Opera is only as strong as its people.

Values and Commitments

Whether artist, staff, trustee, donor, volunteer, audience member, or partner, we recognize that all of the people who comprise On Site Opera contribute to its success. We are linked together by our shared engagement with the operatic art form. We are distinct from one another by our individual lived experiences. We strengthen each other and our art form through shared values that serve to guide our decisions and reflect our community. These values stem from our approach to making opera and extend into everything we do, from producing to governance to administration.


On Site Opera’s core values have been identified and defined by a team of stakeholders as key attributes that are central to everything we do. They are not static, but require periodic, thoughtful examination as our company matures and our society evolves. Through ongoing discussions, we consider how these values have manifested in various parts of the organization since its founding, how we implement them currently, and how we can strive to uplift them into the future. We have listed these values below along with definitions that explain what these terms mean to On Site Opera.

  • ACCESSIBILITY – Actively working to remove barriers from and build bridges to participation with our organization and with the opera art form
  • ADAPTABILITY – Approaching challenges as opportunities, not obstacles, and with a flexible mindset that makes our entire organization more resilient and our programming more vibrant
  • DIVERSITY – Actively seeking a range of perspectives, backgrounds, and ideas to advance our mission
  • EQUITY – Recognizing and disrupting social, racial, and economic injustice in our field and society
  • HUMANITYCultivating a respectful work culture that uplifts everyone within it and treats all with dignity, which in turn contributes to artistic and organizational excellence
  • IMAGINATION– Thinking innovatively and examining the status quo as one of our core competencies
  • INCLUSION – Embracing people as they are and asking what they need to succeed
  • LEARNING – Continually reflecting on our own successes and failures, curiosity to explore new ideas and processes, and commitment to thought partnership and mentorship within and beyond the organization
  • TRANSPARENCY – Sharing information within and outside the organization, inviting questions about our processes, and creating systems of accountability

Within these intersecting values, we recognize the need to examine and elevate with special attention the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion due to a history of systemic racism and inequity in the opera field and in our society. 

We practice within an art form that has historically centered the perspectives of white, European or Euro-descendent men. The foundational history and structure of opera does not fully represent the wonderful breadth of voices and experiences that comprise our society nor our art form. This historical exclusion of so many incredible voices does an immense disservice to our art form and to the communities we serve. Through intentional focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion within our core values, and by further elevating them to the forefront of our work, we embrace the opportunity to create powerful and lasting change within our community and in our field. 


  • On Site Opera is based in New York City, one of the most diverse cities in the world. We aim to build an organization that reflects our community’s diversity by welcoming and affirming people from all racial and cultural backgrounds, gender identities, sexual orientations, language and country origins, physical and learning abilities, religious practices, and generational viewpoints to participate at all levels of the organization. 
  • We recognize that true inclusion and equity within such a diverse community requires honoring each person’s unique lived experience and path toward success. We aim to implement processes and policies that support and advocate for the people that comprise the diversity of On Site Opera, particularly those whose identities have been historically excluded or oppressed.


  • Produce work within our core season that uplifts voices and stories that have been historically underrepresented in our art form, and in doing so, commit to producing these stories authentically by including artists and/or consultants whose lived experience and identity informs the authenticity of the story-telling.
  • Cast and hire diverse groups of artists, including BIPOC and trans artists, to work on inherited (or “traditional”) opera repertoire.
  • Program work by historically excluded and/or oppressed composers and librettists within our core programming.
  • Provide annual company-wide staff training opportunities to promote anti-racism, anti-sexual harassment, anti-oppression, and bystander intervention.
  • Conduct annual audits of all policies, protocols, and contracts to ensure alignment with company values and evolving cultural context.
  • Develop an annual plan of acute action steps to implement across the organization to further the commitment to our values.
  • Generate annual reports about On Site Opera’s progress and challenges relating to its EDI values alongside reports about artistic and financial performance.


On Site Opera is committed to creating safe and respectful spaces for artists, staff, patrons, volunteers, and audience members alike. All On Site Opera activities are governed and informed by our company’s Values and Commitments, our Anti-Harassment Policy, and our commitment to Anti-Racism. By entering any On Site Opera program in any capacity, you agree to support and abide by these Shared Agreements. 


  • Enter this space in the spirit of creativity, compassion, learning, and joy.
  • Be respectful and treat others as they would like to be treated.
  • Respect one another’s privacy and vulnerability in the process of creating and learning.
  • Grant freedom and grace to others to enter the space as their full selves safe from discrimination or harassment.
  • Act ethically and with integrity by understanding the importance of self-accountability, honesty, fairness, and decency.
  • Use respectful, courteous, and helpful language when communicating with colleagues and community members.
  • Remember that the impact of your actions bears more weight than your intentions.


On Site Opera is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone regardless of race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, sex, gender (including gender identity and expression), pregnancy, age, sexual orientation, body size, physical or mental disability, or any other protected category. OSO does not tolerate harassment of staff, artists, or audience members in any form. 

If an artist, audience member, or any other participant engages in harassing behavior, On Site Opera may take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender or expulsion from On Site Opera Opera programming and events.


On Site Opera acknowledges that racial injustice has long been a part of our industry and greater society. Racial injustice involves treating someone unfavorably because that individual is of a certain race or because of personal characteristics associated with race (such as hair texture, skin color, or certain facial features). On Site Opera is dedicated to providing an atmosphere free from discrimination, bias, hate speech, or physical aggression based on an individual’s race or color. OSO does not tolerate any of the aforementioned behavior from staff, artists, or audience members in any form. 


Anyone who believes they have experienced or witnessed harassment or a violation or our Code of Conduct should report the incident immediately Piper Gunnarson, listed below or to any On Site Opera employee (or to a Stage Manager if applicable). All OSO employees and Stage Managers who receive a report or complaint will relay the report to another member of company leadership to ensure appropriate action is taken.

Piper Gunnarson, Executive Director, piper@osopera.org, (347) 394-3050 x4

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