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Arizona Opera receives $375,000 grant as it looks to expand audiences

The Arizona Opera received a $375,000 grant from the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, which it plans to use to for re-branding of its programs and business model.

The grant comes through the trust’s new inaugural program AGILE, which will help arts and culture organizations build operations and organizational resilience.

“The point of the grant is about trying to figure out how arts and culture nonprofits in the Valley can find their way to resilience,” said Joe Specter, president and general director of Arizona Opera.

Arizona Opera has already been working with AGILE for a year, and will continue to work with the program as it looks to set the stage for a new phase of the organization.

AGILE has so far helped with go-to-market strategy and re-branding of Arizona Opera. With the help of the grant it will continue to help Arizona Opera make investments in infrastructure and community engagement looking toward the next four years.

“The Opera’s transformation has great potential to contribute to strengthening community resilience and cohesion within the broader arts and culture sector,” Susan Pepin, president and CEO of Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, said in a statement.

Spector said the grant has already helped Arizona Opera shift and re-brand looking into next year, with the future emergence of new programs and season models.

“What this grant is most about is what the civic value of our organization can be and aligning our resources behind that,” Spector said. “That began with a big shift in our artistic program that really has thought about community first.”

The company, currently in its 45th season, is looking to expand its audiences and offerings next year, and will be launching Arizona Opera Red. The new venture will offer two different shows in the fall in smaller venues at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix and the Temple of Music and Art in Tucson. In the winter and spring there will be more classic main stage series programs in traditional locations.

Arizona Opera Red will feature newer works that are more immediate and engaging for people not used to opera as an art form. It will have two offerings in the fall: a tango opera in Spanish and “Charlie Parker’s Yardbird.”

Spector said he believes opera can inspire and bring people together from any background.

“We are thrilled about the idea that is using (opera) to tell stories that unite and inspire Arizona in the fullest way possible,” he said. “This is all about service to our community.”


By Kara Carlson – Editorial Intern, Phoenix Business Journal