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Opera Memphis receives Assisi Foundation grant to open stage for year-round programming
MEMPHIS, Tenn., July 15, 2021 — Thanks to a $500,000 grant from The Assisi Foundation of Memphis, Inc. and a dollar for dollar matching gift from the Handorf family, Opera Memphis will soon be able to offer more public performances throughout the year, expanding beyond their traditional schedule of three to four operas per year plus 30 Days of Opera, their month-long series of free shows throughout the city. The money will be used to endow the Handorf Company Artist Program, which brings emerging artists from across the country to Memphis to perform throughout the city. The opera company will continue to present its masterworks at venues like the Germantown Performing Arts Center, Playhouse on the Square, and the upcoming Scheidt Family Performing Arts Center, but can now present more performances annually and in additional locations as part of its well-publicized effort to bring opera to every ZIP code in Memphis.
“At Opera Memphis, we pride ourselves on making opera that belongs to everyone,” said Ned Canty, Opera Memphis’ general director. “We know everyone can’t come to us, so we've committed to bringing opera to them – to every ZIP code in Memphis, and that requires singers with talent, charisma, and drive. The Assisi Foundation and the Handorfs are ensuring that we can always have access to singers who are true citizen-artists.”
Expanded opera performances will range from large-scale staged productions to intimate chamber recitals to free pop-up events in public spaces across the city. These community-focused activities fuel Opera Memphis’ goal of smashing down as many of the barriers to experiencing opera as possible, a process that began with the launch of its nationally recognized 30 Days of Opera series in 2012.
“Opera Memphis is an essential resource, not only in presenting professional operatic performances, but also in enriching people’s lives through music,” said Jan Young, executive director of the Assisi Foundation. “We’ve been amazed by how they’ve increased accessibility to the arts, especially during the past year, and we look forward to all the new creative and inspiring performances Opera Memphis will bring in the months to come.”
In addition to more performances, part of Opera Memphis’ expansion plans include the company moving from its current headquarters, the Clark Opera Memphis Center at 6745 Wolf River Parkway, to a new, more centralized location in Memphis that is solely dedicated to rehearsal space and small performances.
The Assisi Foundation grant matches the first half of a $1,000,000 matching pledge made by the Handorf family in 2019. The remaining pledge is yet to be matched, and opportunities for naming rights to various aspects of the program are still available. Once fully funded, the HCA program and a new dedicated space will allow Opera Memphis to program meaningful, accessible, and high-quality content at times that were previously impossible.
About Opera Memphis:
Opera Memphis was founded in 1956 and has a long history of attracting some of the world’s most acclaimed singers and musicians. In addition to its reputation for offering world-class productions, Opera Memphis has earned widespread praise for its innovative approach to education and civic engagement, which reaches more than 40,000 children and adults per season through mainstage productions, 30 Days of Opera, and its Sing2Me program.
Article by Tom Bailey - included with permission from the Daily Memphian