By Sally Blackwood, Liza Lim, Peggy Polias, & Bree van Reyk
As reported by Alison Croggon in Opera and the invisibility of women, the New Opera Workshop (NOW2019) held in Brisbane in Aprilhighlighted the entrenched bias, the structural nature of sexism and other exclusionary forces that are reflected in many of the norms, expectations and practices of opera as an artform.
The conference was an invitation to practitioners to evolve new thinking for opera in the 21st century and it is in this spirit that we – and our co-signatories below – are making a call for change.
NOW is the time for the opera sector to step up and join the conversation about gender equity, diversity and the championing of a multiplicity of voices. On the brink of redefining the Major Performing Arts Framework and in the wake of the National Opera Review Discussion Paper and Final Report, we ask that these points be urgently addressed. Now is the time for opera in Australia to evolve and to lead the way with diversity on our stages, in our creative teams, and on our panels. We are calling for a better vision for opera in its work practices and as an art form.
We demand a national commitment to systemic change:
- We want diversity to be reflected in all aspects of the opera we experience.
- We call for a questioning of the systemic acceptance of gender-based violence in opera.
- We want recognition, respect, advocacy and support for creators who are female, non-binary and from diverse cultural backgrounds.
- We call for safe inclusive spaces for people with diverse voices and abilities to set the agenda, to lead the conversation, to have a resonant voice.
- We want to decolonise the distribution of power so that the stories and creative work of women and all people with diverse voices resonate equally with that of men.
- We call for an unprecedented commitment to the programming and commissioning of new Australian opera work with gender and cultural diversity at the forefront.
- We call for those in leadership to back us and that the act of hearing be prioritised alongside the act of speaking.
Read the full call to action on the Performing ArtsHub.