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Robert Golden has been filming and photographing with Opera Circus since 1991. All the films from 1991 till around 2004 are on old formats which one day we will transfer and relive the global touring we did with Kill Me I Love You, Shameless, King Stag and Cat Man's Tale.
We have created a Vimeo Channel so all the films that are accessible can be found in one place. They include much of the work we did in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina and extracts of Nigel Osborne's chamber opera Differences in Demolition and work in progress on the current opera, Naciketa.
It also includes all the films that have been made about The Complete Freedom of Truth, the International Youth Arts Programme in the UK and Europe.
We will continue to upload other films as and when they become available.
This is the beginning of the slow transformation of the way in which Opera Circus' work over the last 27 years will be made available on line or in a cloud, to create a new sustainable way of working which will share our learning and our work.
We have been taught by working with the highest quality of artist/film maker/photographer that the high standards we expect in our performances and teaching should extend to the images we share with the world. Everything reflects on the quality and sensitivity of our creativity, words spoken to me many years ago during a meeting with Peter Brook in Paris. Poor photography and amateurish videos do no-one any good and do not enhance the quality of work we all want to achieve.
Images are really important to people these days, perhaps even more important than words for some. Just because the technology is there, it doesn't mean we can all be professional photographers and film makers.
We should honour all art forms, if we don't no-one else will.
Tina Ellen Lee
WHAT IS GET CLOSE TO OPERA ABOUT?
The GET CLOSE TO OPERA project will develop and promote inclusive and multicultural arts education and training programmes seeking to support best practice in migrant and refugee contexts. The training methodology will use Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory and focus on Opera as the delivery artform.
GET CLOSE TO OPERA brings together a partnership of organisations from across Europe - Materahub (Italy), Teatro L’Albero (Italy), Opera Circus (UK), Fundacio Privada Promocio d’Escoles (Spain), University of Patras (Greece), European Network of Migrant Women (Belgium) and RESEO (Belgium) and RESEO, the International Association for Higher Education in Opera and Dance.
GET CLOSE TO OPERA is inspired by opera as an artform that embraces multiple languages and engages its audiences emotionally through music. We believe that through opera we can unleash the potential to reach across barriers, creatively communicate, and explore what we have in common.
GET CLOSE TO OPERA recognises the wide range of activity that has already been created in this context, and seeks to engage with opera houses, opera companies, singers, musicians, dancers, actors, cultural mediators, facilitators and cultural practitioners working through the arts in migrant and refugee contexts, and educators interested in non-formal arts education.
Over the next two years until 2019, we will develop and test with them a new methodology, exploring the opportunities that the Theory of Multiple Intelligence could contribute to informal education training and skills in Opera. After a preparatory research phase, we will design an innovative training programme for educators and trainers, which will take place in Matera (Italy) in 2019. We will then apply the methodology developed through a series of pilot actions involving migrants and refugees that will be carried out in Italy, Spain, Greece, Belgium and United Kingdom. MIT was named by Howard Gardner, more information here. multipleintelligencesoasis.org
We understand that the level of informal education in the arts is at a different stage of progress in different countries. Working with our partners across Europe we will bring together our learning and the opportunities for the advancement of formal education in the arts in each country.
We will share our experience and our tools on an online platform open with all those who wish to experiment and share the GET CLOSE TO OPERA research and resulting methodology throughout Europe.
Opera Circus will be approaching facilitators and cultural practitioners from their wide network to assist with the research and with our partners and organisations in this field, explore what is available to learn from, and share within, this sector.
Further information from the Get Close to Opera web site. Please get in touch with Opera Circus on email@example.com if you would like to participate in the general survey. The survey link will be sent out on the morning of the 8th January 2018.
We are waiting on the results of a series of funding applications to transform the way Opera Circus works, new directions, new visions and new work. The web site will be redesigned and much of the content rewritten. Please bear with us.
We have little capacity to do this at present and are working towards building a virtual arts company that works with a larger ensemble of creative freelance people who will help to develop all the opportunities that we are being offered with sustainable and long term goals.
The Complete Freedom of Truth, our long term international youth arts programme, has proven to be one of the most successful artistic processes we have created since we began in 1991, but has been a drain on our resources, human and financial. We need to re-imagine who we are and what we do and how we do it. .
TCFT has opened up so many new areas of creative work and given new life to the artistic heart of the company.
At present we have a campaign to raise £200,000 to help transform the company and to take on our new programme of work in 2018, 2019 and 2020. If you have any ideas or connections do get in touch.
We will be sending out a Crowdfunding campaign shortly to help raise £20,000 to support 20 young people from Dorset to participate in the TCFT youth programmes in 2018. This includes exchanges with young people in Portugal, Serbia, Romania and/or Italy. They will have the opportunity to take part in the 10 day TCFT UK residency in August 2018, working with Glyndebourne and international partners from Sarteano and Setubal. We will be asking all of our networks to please help us circulate this at the right moment. With thanks.
We have a new advisory group of people to support our Board of Trustees, bringing new skills and intellect to our future work. Alister O'Loughlin and Miranda Henderson of Urban Playground Team, Anna Ledgard, Philiy Page, Shaniqua Benjamin, Rory Newbery, Rachael Veazey, Darren Abrahams, Robert Golden, Alain Ruche (Brussels), Geraldine Sharpe Newton and with guidance from Matt Little of Rio in Bristol.
This has been an exceedingly tough but incredibly productive year. Our thanks go to all those who have supported, helped, advised and been so patient to help us survive. We are on the cusp of change and look forward to the next five years of art, creativity, struggle and positive change.
Opera Circus is partnering with Bournemouth University on this 4 year Arts and Humanities Research Council Project called Changing the Story. Please see the web site for this fascinating research project. Our work will be part of the Kosovo process because of our history of engagement in the Balkan region in particular with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. This is an exceptional opportunity to further the use of arts and cultural activities with young people in areas of post conflict. Thanks to Professor Stephanie Schwanders-Sievers for this opportunity. https://www.leeds.ac.uk/arts/info/125052/centre_for_world_cinemas_and_digital_cultures/3107/changing_the_story
Geoffrey Brown, Director of Euclid, an organisation which offers a wide variety of assistance and advice on EU funding, partners and much besides, is organising a seminar on November 8th. www.euclid.info
In the last 10 years, the EU’s Erasmus+ programme (and its predecessors) have provided over £20m to UK partners in projects involving the arts, culture, heritage and the creative industries. There are a number of Erasmus+ deadlines from now until March 2019 and on 8 November 2017 in Leeds, Euclid is organising a unique one-day event which will explain the opportunities from this programme. There will be presentations from the official UK contact points, and from a number of successful projects, and delegates will have the opportunity to meet with all speakers to ask detailed questions and present their project ideas. The cost is £60 (or £30 if you book before 20 October).
Brouhaha from Liverpool, Opera Circus South West UK, Ecorys, British Council, Leeds City Council and a variety of organisations will be talking about how to make the most of this large funding stream whilst we can.
On October 26th and 27th we are in Brussels for the first meeting of this new Erasmus project led by Matera Hub and Teatro l'Albero, Matera, Italy.
This is a two year project which looks at the possible ways that the variety of art forms within opera could be used to create tools that can help to share cultures with our new migrant communities, if they are interested. The work is not directly with migrants but initially is a research programme that will explore with artists, facilitators, university research departments and others how we could deliver tools, processes and information that could be useful.
The other partners in this process include Opera Circus, RESEO, the European Network for Opera and Dance Education, the Network of Migrant Women, both based in Brussels, the University of Patras, Greece and ESART, an international centre of higher arts education in Barcelona.
It will be interesting to see how we can all combine our experiences of informal arts education and research. We will create a web page on our new web site, coming shortly, which will feedback on this whole process. Thanks to Matera Hub for writing such a successful Erasmus application and for bringing together such an interesting group of partners. https://www.facebook.com/materahub
96% of artists who took part in the Referendum to leave or remain as part of the European Union, voted to stay.
Europe is our culture, our history, our arts and our future. It is a fact that the EU needs change. EU bureaucracy, corruption, values and an insistence that the main purpose of the 28 (still) countries working together is for economic purposes.
Romano Prodi who was the 10th President of the European Commission (1999-2004) was reported to have said that if he had the time again he would have based the values of the European Union on that of Culture and not Economics.
I imagine we would be in a very different place now if that had been the case.
In the recent paper produced by Jean Claude-Junkers, the current President of the European Commission, he describes
5 alternatives for the future of the EU. In the entire paper the word culture is not used once.
So we regress as a society and those of us who have advocated for years for the recognition that the arts and culture is
of central importance for the education, health, well being, peace, creativity and progress of our communities
and society, seem to be back at square one, or maybe not.
Opera Circus is now working more than ever in Europe. 26 years on from the start of this small performing arts organisation, we now have partnerships in 8 European countries and are exploring further conversations with three new arts organisations in the Middle East, Egypt, Palestine and possibly Tunisia or Jordan.
When we were a much more active touring company we performed globally from Peru to Thailand, Canada to Georgia and across wider Europe. As a result we grew as artists and people, were challenged, educated and inspired.
Now through our youth process The Complete Freedom of Truth we aim to offer some of these experiences and hopefully inspiration and learning to a broad cross section of young people with our partnerships and beyond.
If you didn’t see the documentary about the development of the work from 2008 in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina to today and into the future, click on the link here.
TCFT, Opera Circus and the future:
Since the end of the last Erasmus + youth residency which was in Sarteano, Italy in 2017, a number of smaller initiatives by young people have been delivered in Srebrenica and Croydon London. There are plans for other small programmes in Serbia and Portugal as well as Italy.
We are running our, now annual, TCFT week in Bridport, Dorset, UK and looking forward to welcoming our partner youth organisations, SLYNCS from Blackburn, Young People Insight from Croydon, and we hope You-press from London. This is from 12 – 17 February and do get in touch if you want to know more or be involved. Thank you to Awards for All, West Dorset District Council, Bridport Arts Centre, Bridport Town Council and others for making this possible.
Opera Circus in Italy
We are at the moment involved in two European programmes of work with partners in Matera, in the region of Bassilicata, Italy.
The first is an Erasmus + project called Get Close to Opera. It involves partners in Spain, Greece, Italy, Belgium and us in the UK. It is an exploration to see if it is possible to use the art forms in opera to explore ideas of cultural integration with refugees. We will be guided very closely by RESEO and the Network of Migrant Women in Brussels. This is led by the highly efficient cultural NGO Matera Hub in Italy.
The other Matera project is a beautiful new community opera, working with the young theatre company Teatro L’Albero in Matera and delivering a new work across two years. .
The fascinating orchestra Senza Spine from Bologna and L’Orange Platine from Angers in France will be part of the creative team. We will know for certain whether we have the go ahead in December and if so will be part of Matera City of Culture 2019.
Our relationship with the region of Valdichiana continues with our colleagues and friends in the small historic town of Sarteano in the region of Tuscany. This is led by Laura Fatini and her highly skilled young team through Arrischianti.
They hope to involve two other towns, Montechiello and Montelaterone. We have had successful conversations with the Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena to develop this partnership and the Fondazione’s involvement in more than just funding. Partnerships these days have to also be about sharing skills, networks and opportunities.
We are also in discussion with Glyndebourne about a TCFT residency in July 2018 at Lewes, near Brighton involving artists and young people from Sarteano as well as established partners Setubal Music Festival and their inclusive chamber orchestra. This will be a slightly different TCFT experience as the process will involve local young people who live in and around Brighton and Lewes, young migrants, artists, partners and facilitators from the area. We are meeting from 10 - 13 November and will be able to see a performance of Belongings, the new youth opera at Glyndebourne, music by Lewes Murphy and libretto by Laura Attridge. http://www.glyndebourne.com/tickets-and-whats-on/events/2017/belongings/
The two weeks residency in July 2018 will structured around the story of Giufá.
“Giufà is a character who appears in traditional tales from cultures across Europe and the Middle East (from Turkey to Sicily, from Egypt to Portugal). His story is interpreted in many and various ways as people have travelled through history. Giufà’s stories have contributed to the cultural identity of each country in which he has travelled.
Giufa's stories, are simple as fairy tales and equally instructive. They can be a useful tool for working on our human concerns such as identity, difference, self-knowledge, and freedom. We use this art of storytelling as a way to communicate with each other.” Laura Fatini writer and theatre director Sarteano.
Laura has written the text to this new music theatre piece and Sara Ross, now working at the Teatro Sāo Carlos, the Lisbon Opera House, is writing the music.
During 2018 there will be meetings and work in progress in Setubal, Sarteano and Glyndebourne. More information will be available later in the year both on this and the TCFT web site.
We haven’t spent as much time as we should have done on this web site and apologise for the lack of updated information but………
Opera Circus is about to transform itself.
The good reason is that we have been so successful in our work over the last 5 years that we now have more work than we can handle for the next 5.
We have produced chamber opera, music theatre, children’s, youth and community projects for over 26 years in the UK, across Europe and from Peru to Thailand, Georgia to the Basque country.
We have designed and led residencies for children in state orphanages 1 and 2, in Vilnius, Nigel Osborne’s Balkan Summer Music Camps in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and in India for children with trauma and disabilities.
There has been a slow and positive development of work with young people through arts and cultural activity which began in Srebrenica, Bosnia in 2008.
This resulted in the birth of TCFT (The Complete Freedom of Truth an international youth arts and cultural long term process and network.) More information on this web site and please see the beautiful films directed by Robert Golden, particularly for 2017 http://thecompletefreedomoftruth.com
We have many partners in many European countries, a network of hundreds of young people and have led 14 day residencies in Srebrenica, BiH, Sarteano, Italy and Bournemouth University, UK.
We have organised artist, youth and schools exchanges, built new networks, created new artworks and been introduced to new artists, life changes and friendships.
As a result of all this Opera Circus has to evolve and transform in the way we run, in how we approach our work and in some cases, even where we work and whom we work with.
We are sharing what we do more widely. Our very mixed ensemble is distributing the work of the funding applications, even an Erasmus +. Smaller versions of TCFT are being led by youth leaders who have grown into the process we have developed together over the last few years. New European partnership projects have evolved and new performances are developing.
As a result over the next two years we are aiming to design a different, more transparent and fluid way of working.
A cloud based production office, creating greater transparency and for a team or ensemble to work together digitally from literally anywhere. Our database will finally be updated and include all our existing networks with space to encourage a greater spread of connections and in particular a wider reach for fund raising and income streams from a more comprehensive section of our global change making society.
We are partnering more and for 2021 having a vision being part of two creative arts and cultural centres, one in Brighton UK and the other in the Valdichiana/Val d’Orcia region of Italy.
We are interested in different approaches to running projects and offering work opportunities to some of the talented young people who have worked with us for a number of years . We need to value more the wisdom and skills available to us, embracing the intense artistic grace and gifts found deep in the experience and talents of many of the invaluable artists we work with.
A number of projects are under discussion including a second TCFT residency in Sarteano, the first took place this April 2017. See the film.
A new music theatre project, whose work in progress title is The Giufa Project, is under discussion with major UK partners for the summer of 2018. This new work is written by the Italian theatre director and writer, Laura Fatini with music by Portuguese composer, Sara Ross. The production will be accompanied by a participation project involving informal education in schools, with young artists and with migrants both in Italy and England. Other partners who are part of this discussion at the moment are Crisis Classroom, Brighton, the Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Fondazione Cantiere Internazionale d’Arte in Montepulciano, Glyndebourne and three small Comuni in the region, Montechiello, Montelaterone and, of course, Sarteano along with Suzie’s Farm, an ecological and vibrant learning, growing and social eating space.
We continue to develop North/South England exchanges between Blackburn’s youth organisation SLYNCS and Bridport’s young people. There will be a visit to Blackburn during the October 2017 half term and a mini TCFT during February 2018 half term in Bridport, involving Blackburn. We hope, the Young People Insight project in Croydon will join us, founded and led by one of the senior TCFT youth leaders, Shaniqua Benjamin.
Following on from a meeting with artist Vania Cauzillo at the Opera Europa conference in Bucharest, Opera Circus is now partnering on two projects in Matera, Basilicata, Italy.
Both are linked to the European City of Culture for 2019.
One project led by Matera Hub includes partners in Greece, Belgium, Italy, UK and Spain and is exploring the use of informal education opportunities through opera with migrants in Italy and across Europe.
The other project is led by Teatro L’Albero in Bari and Matera, creating a new community opera called The Silent City.
We are looking forward in the distant future to working with the beautiful city of Timisoara in 2021 as part of their European City of Culture programme, which has now been confirmed.
We have had an interesting journey with our Erasmus partners, Bournemouth University. Having run a two week residency there in the summer of 2016, BU has been funding a research assistant, Dinu Munteanu, to look at the Impact of our work with young people and the arts through TCFT, in particular. This is an on going process which is beginning to spread across faculties and we hope will deliver, at least, an academic paper as well as a part funded Phd scholarship.
TCFT was part of the Global Engagement Festival of Learning at Bournemouth University in July 2017.
BU is also taking part in creative R and D with Nigel Osborne’s new opera, Naciketa, libretto by Ariel Dorfman. Two BU artists are researching ideas for animation and projection and an electronic soundscape. Nigel has become a BU visiting professor and in September will meet with Opera Circus and other prospective major partners in the region.
There are SALTO and European Youth Foundation conferences being applied to, exploratory work around the Commons and P2P, exploring different thinking and language through the work we do, new board members and new funders.
Amy Wisenfeld and Rory Newbery, students at Manchester and Leeds University respectively, submitted the application to have TCFT awarded the EU Charlemagne Youth Prize and came first out of all the applications from the UK.
Francesco Pipparelli from Sarteano, represented TCFT at Achen to collect the award.
Young people who have grown into leadership positions and become role models are running smaller models of TCFT exploring Arts and Friendship, Mental Health and Food Security with Local Food and Farming.
We are developing a number of small scale and Forum theatre projects. One of these that grew out of parental concerns in Bridport, will look at texting/sexting and the bullying that comes from this. An Awards for All grant has been successfully applied for to support this work. We are meeting with Sir John Colfox School’s teachers and students to talk with them about how this might be a way to open this difficult discussion with parents, the school and the community.
ACE has just awarded us a small grant for some R and D around the art that has evolved from TCFT and to find a way through performance to explore with participants and a wider audience the emotional and secure cultural space that this long term programme of work engenders.
"TCFT is a process for understanding each other, differences and everything that has connected and divided us.
For me when I see it in the future, it is a good system, system where we all could live by, it’s like we have a great structure for this system. It’s like the village in Spain (Mondragon - https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/mar/07/mondragon-spains-giant-cooperative). I always see this is possible in TCFT." Sandra Duric, Philosophy student, BiH.
I would personally like to thank everyone who has contributed to all that has been achieved. Without an ensemble/partnership/collaborative team very little of this would have succeeded in the way it has. People’s patience, kindness, talent, wisdom, energy and commitment has ensured we have created work that goes beyond expectations and evolved into more than a network, more of a creative and equal community of people working towards something kinder, something deeper and something that acknowledges the vital importance and value of every single one of us through our creativity, our art and our multifarious cultures. The Learning has been profound and life changing.
Now for more art.
Tina Ellen Lee
February was our last post. The next three months we led the delivery of the final phase of an extraordinary International Youth Arts programme of work The Complete Freedom of Truth, which was part funded by an Erasmus + grant.
One of our 11 partners, the Comune di Sarteano, hosted and helped to organise this final residency for 14 days in their beautiful town in Southern Tuscany. See the photograph at the top of the page to look at the main square with the Arrischianti Theatre on the right hand side. A tiny mini version of La Scala in Milan, exquisite and perfect and at the centre of the life of the town and its kind, patient and hospitable community.
There will be an evaluation and a report on the projects web site, TCFT, http://thecompletefreedomoftruth.com and more news and updates as all the film and photography, words and poetry are added.
There will an update shortly on where this project will go next but it will surely be followed by small residencies from
1 day to 1 week, Srebrenica, BiH, Bridport and Croydon, UK and possibly Setubal, Portugal.
Now it the time for the final reporting and evaluations but this will give food for the space in the brain that says what next, where do we go from here with this amount of energy and inspiration. Certainly Opera Circus is going to continue working with young people in Bosnia and is delighted if collaborations are formed with Arischianti in Sarteano.
There is interest in working with a number of partners in the Middle East and Northern Africa and we hope several UK individuals and partners who have helped create this work from day 1.
More than anything it is time for more art, more creativity and less mind - numbing bureaucracy.
Thank you to everyone who has helped fill the last 24 months with delight and joy, learning and struggle.
To the few who thought they knew best, we wish you well.