Contact, Francesca Russo, Higher Education Coordinator
DARE, a ten-year old collaboration between the company and the University of Leeds, was set up to foster meaningful work between academics, students and the opera company, achieving work neither could achieve alone. Another four-year old agreement with was also established with the University of Hull where music master classes and a range of opportunities are on offer each year.
The dedicated staff has established other informal contracts in HE including with the locally situated Leeds Beckett, and when on tour company members work with students from the universities of Newcastle and Manchester.
DARE had enabled around 40 interns to work within the company and are moving towards having this work accredited through modules. For example, with the editors’ department, twice a year interns spend 20 days learning proof-reading, writing short pieces and editing work. The interns’ work is assessed through midway and exit interviews by staff at Opera North to ensure mutual aims are being met. Their subsequent progress is also being tracked.
Company staff engage with HE in different ways including working on REP PhD projects, working with an academic on a research strand Performing Violence, programming public talks e.g. ‘Liberty Lectures’, giving careers talks and attending job fairs.
Opera North is working towards increasing the diversity of the company. The Western Jerwood Creative Bursary, which pays a half salary to a recent graduate from a low socio-economic group, and the Pettman Dare Fellows (two per year) have produced positive results.