Opera as a community arts project: Strategies for engagement and participation

Jacqueline Clements

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The role of arts in developing communities is increasingly recognised. In 2010, an arts education institute in
    the low socioeconomic city of Delfzijl in the Netherlands produced Bizet’s Carmen as a community opera project. Opera, with its complexity and elitist reputation, does not easily align with the democratic and participatory nature of
    community based arts. Through working with a mix of professionals and amateur performers, the opera project achieved both artistic results and community outcomes. An additional festival contained a vast number of professional and community initiatives, making opera accessible for a large and diverse audience. This paper will argue that defining community arts in terms of community development is too narrow. Understanding how cities can be re-shaped through cultural engagement is better understood through exploring the relationships between the arts world, community organisations, corporate industries/business, local government and the community. This assertion forms the basis for examining the projects network and social capital dimensions, which culminates in identifying mechanisms of engagement and fostering participation in terms of purpose, legitimacy and coolness (group affiliation).
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)57-68
    JournalThe International Journal of Social, Political and Community Agendas in the Arts
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2016

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