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2020 Report on COVID-19 Activities for Opera Volunteers International

The goal of Central City Opera’s (CCO) Audience Development for New and Underserved Communities, funded by Opera Volunteers International, is to identify and develop ways to market opera to a younger and more diverse audience in Colorado. In response to the public health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, CCO made the difficult decision to postpone its 2020 Summer Opera Festival, and in coordination with local governments, venues, and performance partners, postponed or rescheduled all in- person performances and education activities originally planned for 2020. These decisions were made withthe goal of protecting the health of CCO’s audiences, artists, volunteers, and staff. Instead of going dormant during this time, CCO committed to developing new and innovative ways to stay connected with its artists, patrons, donors and the Central City community during this difficult time. CCO has launched an array of innovative new programs, experiences, and initiatives during the pandemic, including the following:

The CCO COVID-19 Relief Fund: To support its community of artists and performers, who have been particularly impacted by the pandemic, CCO established the CCO COVID-19 Relief Fund, raising over $350,000 to pay each of the artists involved in the postponed 2020 Summer Opera Festival a portion of their 2020 contracts. These payments have been a lifeline to the Company’s artists, and thankfully, all but one will be able to return to participate in the 2021 Summer Opera Festival.

Virtual and Socially-Distanced Performances: During the immediate quarantine of the Spring of 2020, CCO released a series of performance recordings, artist interviews, virtual tours of the Company’s historic buildings, and podcasts free to the public to provide entertainment, connection, and inspiration to a community facing unprecedented social isolation. These digital materials received over 14,000 views. During the summer of 2020, CCO launched a new series of Al Fresco Concerts, hosted from the balcony of CCO’s historic opera house in Central City. These socially-distanced performances enabled audience members to spread out across the lawn on picnic baskets to enjoy the balcony performances, and were recorded and streamed live to audiences across Colorado and the nation. Over 550 audience members attended CCO’s socially-distanced in-person outdoor performances during the summer of 2020. CCO also transitioned its Annual Plein Air Ats Festival to an all-outdoor, socially distant festival, and hosted several “Opera Movie Nights”, screening socially distanced performances in the backyards of volunteers to small groups of donors and providing a brief discussion and behind-the-scenes commentary by Pat Pearce, CCO’s General and Artistic Director.

Adapted Education and Community Engagement Programming: As schools tentatively returned to the classroom in the Fall of 2020, CCO launched an adapted series of arts education and performance programs. These include A virtual “Music Words Opera!” workshop, Yoga and the Voice video classes, Digital Concerts paired with live Q&As with the performers, virtual masterclasses, and a blended in- person/virtual “Music, Words, Opera!” residency program for middle school students.

CCO is deeply grateful for its community of donors, volunteers, artists, staff, and audience members who have made this adapted programming possible this year, and the Company thanks Opera Volunteers International for its ongoing support of its Audience Development and Engagement Initiatives, even as they have taken unexpected forms in response to the pandemic. If you have any additional questions, or would like to attend a virtual event, please contact Katherine Nicholson at knicholson@centralcityopera.org, or (303) 292-6500.

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