OperaUpClose Gala Dinner


After the great success of last year's Spring Gala Dinner, we have decided to make it an annual fixture. Our second Gala Dinner for friends, patrons and supporters will be on Monday 24 April and we would love you all to be there.

The dinner will be at Resident, a restaurant on the aptly named Paradise Row: a haven for foodies and connoisseurs of cocktails, fine wines and craft beers, set in a strip of lovingly converted railway arches a stone's throw from Bethnal Green tube station. 

For those of you who don’t know it, Resident is an independent restaurant serving elevated British cuisine and cocktails. They take their ingredients very seriously, going so far as to cure and smoke their salmon on site. Our diners will be welcomed with a cocktail, and then be treated to a fabulous three course dinner, with accompanying wine.

And naturally there'll be opera! You'll be serenaded between courses and after dinner by some of the talented singers in our next production. In fact, you will be the very first people to hear Glyn Maxwell’s new translation of The Magic Flute when our Queen of the Night wows you with some high-octane vocals.

Robin Norton-Hale will be announcing our upcoming season on the night and you'll have the chance to informally catch up with our team, hear our news, meet some of the cast of The Magic Flute and your fellow OperaUpClose supporters.
Individual tickets are £100, or you can book a table of ten and bring a gang of friends or colleagues and introduce them to our work. Part of your ticket price includes a donation towards paying for young people who could not otherwise afford to do so to attend The Magic Flute workshops and performances, but we hope you agree it's a bargain for an evening of great food, wine and song.

RSVP olivia@operaupclose.com to book your tickets. Last year we were oversubscribed so please get in touch soon if you're keen. 

We can't wait to see you there.

Executive Producer Dominic Haddock to join Spitalfields Music

It is with pride and some sadness that we announce that Dominic Haddock, our longstanding Executive Producer, will be leaving OperaUpClose in May to join Spitalfields Music as their Director of Development. 

Dominic was in the audience of the very first performance OperaUpClose gave, La Bohème at The Cock Tavern on 8 December 2009. In August 2010, we went into production for The Barber of Seville and invited Dominic, who was a freelance producer, to work with us on the show. We soon offered him a full time producing role, and in 2011 he was appointed Executive Producer. 

Alongside Artistic Director, Robin Norton-Hale, Dominic has overseen our development from fringe 'pub opera' start-up, to a national and international mid-scale touring company, which runs education and participation programmes, and develops contemporary opera as well as our more traditional repertoire. Dominic was also Executive Director of the King's Head Theatre during OperaUpClose’s residency at the venue (2010-2015), and was the founding Executive Director of the now flourishing Hope Theatre. 

In addition to his work with us, Dominic has volunteered his time to serve as a Trustee of The Opera & Music Theatre Forum, is a former Trustee of Rowan Arts and was an industry mentor with the Business Employment Support Team at Islington Council. 

Of his new appointment, Dominic said ''I'm thrilled to be joining Spitalfields Music. I love the world class work that the company produces at its festivals and have huge admiration for the amazing creative projects it delivers in the Tower Hamlets community. It will be a real honour to be part of delivering their programme. I have loved my seven years at OperaUpClose, I've had wonderful colleagues and am proud of what we've achieved together. The company will always have a very special place in my heart and it will be very difficult to say goodbye. I leave knowing that OperaUpClose has never had a better group of people behind it, and that the plans they have are going to keep pushing artistic boundaries and grow the reach and scale of their work in incredibly exciting ways.'' 

Robin Norton-Hale said, “OperaUpClose owes so much to Dominic. He has been instrumental not only in getting all our shows on stage, but in fundraising, developing young producers, and being a passionate advocate for the work we do and the arts in general. I know Spitalfields Music’s commitment to enabling people of all backgrounds to experience high quality music is close to Dom’s heart, and we wish him every success in his new role and all his future projects.

Dominic joins a prestigious group of OperaUpClose alumni, with former employees going on to senior roles at the likes of the Royal Opera House, Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre, Young Vic and Donmar Warehouse. 

Who wins the Culture Gameshow?

300 young people are set to re-imagine London with Barking and Dagenham’s Cultural Citizens pilot.

Photo Credit: Roger Brown

Photo Credit: Roger Brown

Picture this: two gameshow hosts in red sequins race around the auditorium of the Barbican’s prestigious Conservatory Terrace with microphones, while 75 students from 5 Barking and Dagenham schools, along with 60 members of the cultural sector from across London yell “BINGO!... HIGHER!... LOWER!”, and all this on a Monday night!

These were the scenes taking place during the ‘Culture Gameshow’ at the launch of the Cultural Citizens programme - a new national initiative which is being piloted in London, Liverpool, Blackpool and Birmingham. If successful, the programme will be rolled out to thousands of young people across the country. It will be led by Arts Council England and delivered by A New Direction, Curious Minds and Kids in Museums with support from Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund. 

The London pilot of the programme is taking place in Barking and Dagenham, and is led by A New Direction in partnership with Studio3 and Creative Barking and Dagenham (the area’s Cultural Education Partnership). 300 young people are starting to co-design their own agenda of visits and workshops across a range of art forms with some of London's most innovative and exciting cultural organisations. They will attend clubs with professional artists, and will be supported by local ‘Cultural Connectors’ - a network of local adults engaging Barking and Dagenham residents in the arts. They will also achieve an Arts Award Bronze qualification which is a nationally recognized Level 1 qualification, a pretty big deal if you’ve not yet done your GCSE’s! All of this will set them off on a journey of discovery and give them ownership of their city.    

Photo Credit: Roger Brown

Photo Credit: Roger Brown

Higher or Lower?

Two of the questions attendees were asked during the Culture Gameshow were:

1: How many jobs are in there in the creative industries in London?

2: How much money is made by the UK’s creative and cultural industries?

Very good questions, and ones we could all do with knowing the answer to as they have a big impact on our national economic and skills growth.

The answer to question 1: in London 1 in 6 jobs are in the creative industries. [1] Question 2: £84.1 billion per year. [2]

Not all of us have a chance to witness this amazing mass of creativity. Nor does everyone have a chance to author it, move to it, produce it, make it, solve it, or direct it.

As you may know, there are 8 million people living in London. What you may not know however is that over a quarter of those people are living below the poverty line. London's children are also much more likely to live in poor households than children in the rest of England - 37% versus 26%. [3]

Photo Credit: Roger Brown

Photo Credit: Roger Brown

Is everyone a winner?

Cultural disadvantage goes hand in hand with these economic barriers. Cultural engagement builds attainment, critical thinking, the ability to stay in sustained employment and, crucially, live above the poverty line. [4] Even if a young person doesn’t end up working in the burgeoning creative and cultural industries, creative problem solving is now the number one skill all employers look for above all else.[5] Young people who aren’t offered any opportunities to engage with culture or develop their creative skills then face an uphill struggle.

The Cultural Citizens programme forms part of the government’s wider ‘life chances strategy’ which aims to address disadvantage in all of its forms and transform the lives of the poorest families in Britain by offering “every child who has had a difficult start the promise of a brighter future” (David Cameron, January 2016).  

The strategy recognises that there are currently “too many young people who are culturally disenfranchised” and calls for the cultural sector to open its doors and reach out to marginalised groups so that “many more children can have the doors opened to their wonderful cultural inheritance”. This ambition is echoed in The Culture White Paper: “culture should be part of every child’s education both in and out of school”.

The government’s plans reflect the ambition of Arts Council England’s Cultural Education Challenge, to give every child and young person the right to:

·         Create, compose and perform their own musical or artistic work
·         Visit, experience and participate in extraordinary work
·         Know more, understand more and review the experiences they’ve had

Get involved

A New Direction and Studio 3 are starting to work with 300 students to give them the chance to author their own cultural map of London as part of Cultural Citizens. This includes five visits which they will plan themselves and deliver in after-school clubs, anywhere in London, across a variety of arts forms and styles – from opera to grime, Wicked to Shakespeare.

Photo Credit: Roger Brown

Photo Credit: Roger Brown

If you would like to find out more or get involved with the programme please do get in touch! We are particularly interested in talking to individuals and organisations who can offer tickets, discounts, tours, experiences, talks, masterclasses or workshops, to a group of talented young people. Through this programme we hope to ensure that young Londoners get a slice of the city for themselves to help them enjoy and achieve great things.

Contact: Louise.Barnell@Anewdirection.org.uk