This is quite ironic, but for the best. Only last week we were lamenting on this blog the lack of funding and of an appropriate policy for opera in Ireland and, right after (on the 17th of February), we found out that the Arts Council announced some major initiatives in this sector. So much for the power of wishing!
The big news is that the Arts Council has issued an ‘open call’ for proposals for a “regular provider of an annual season of Irish-produced, main-scale, predominantly core-repertoire opera in Dublin from an agreed date in 2018”. Yes, that means we will see more Traviata and Tosca in Dublin. This “provider” would basically take the place of what Opera Ireland was until 2011, filling a six year gap in the existence of a national opera company. This will be possible thanks to a significant 49% increase in opera funding: the budget for opera will in fact go from 3.26 M in 2016 to 4.85 M in 2018.
Among the other initiatives that will be covered by this increase in opera funding, we find the following: a “new opera” commissions award to fund, in advance, new works by Irish composers and librettists; the restoration of bursaries for individual opera artists for amounts of up to €10.000; a significant increase in 2017 of the Council’s “Travel and Training” fund to allow Irish artists to undertake specialised training abroad. There will also be a continued support from the Council to festival opera and small-scale touring opera.
This is all welcome news and will sound like music (forgive the pun!) to the ears of both opera producers and opera lovers. Next step, the planning and construction of a dedicated opera house in Dublin ;-).