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A NZ Arts organisation making a name for itself

A New Zealand Arts organisation making a name for itself with a simple recipe

2013 is an exciting year for a company born from a great idea with a passion for people and music and a rare arts entrepreneurial feel.

Operatunity is proud to launch its 2013 season of concerts and special interest trips. From a first audience of nine 11 years ago to more than 250 concerts a year around the country and eight overseas tours for music lovers, Operatunity has developed a thriving musical company.

Directors Geoffrey Hughes, Susan Boland and John Cameron got tired of singers complaining there was no work for them, so the trio of opera singers decided to make work for themselves and others.

"We basically decided the world doesn't owe you a living so we formed Operatunity to work for ourselves and fellow singers, and we survive totally on box office. For an arts organisation, that's unheard of in New Zealand," Hughes said.

In true ‘get up and go’ New Zealand entrepreneurial style, the three directors do a bit of everything but now also employ 5 staff full time as well as up to 40 singers and artists subcontracted over a year.

Although they do not receive any grants or sponsorship, Hughes claims they are the largest provider of live entertainment in the country, presenting in 2013 more than 200 daytime concerts and 56 evening concerts in a total of eleven national tours. There are not many arts companies in New Zealand and one that has started from nothing, has had no government funding and succeeds, is a rare commodity.

"We are like an old English repertory company, drive into town, set up, do the show, pack it up and drive off to the next town. It's an old tradition that's very rarely done nowadays." Hughes says.

As part of their 2013 launch the company announces The Evening Concert Series, three national tours featuring Rock the 50s, 60s and 70s with rock and roll icon Tom Sharplin and his band - a chance to re-live youth from that great music era, Helen Medlyn and Penny Dodd in their new show Hell on Wheels, an irreverent, fun look at Helen’s life as a professional singer, and An Evening at the Opera with wonderful singers, music and a chance to discover opera maybe for the first time. Director Sue Boland says “It’s a chance for people to see good quality professional music and artists without having to take out a mortgage, making music high quality but accessible and enjoyable”

For their eight 2013 national daytime concert tours they aim to present completely different styles of music, with musicals featuring in one, "popera" - opera, light opera and pop crossover music in another, Forbidden Broadway (a spoof of Broadway musicals), Music for Romantics, Crooners such as Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, and Irish music feature in others.

The three directors brainstorm the themes for each season, hire the performers, choose the music and apply for the performing rights.

Such a schedule, 24 concerts in 24 cities in 24 days with weekends between, is hard work, especially as the performers do everything themselves, setting up the stage, scenery, props and lighting, as well as running the box office.

They aim to keep ticket prices low, at $30 for daytime and $45 for evening concerts.

At the suggestion of some audience members, the company has also developed a travel club which includes concerts and other music-associated activities on its tours. Among the five staff in the Auckland office, they employ a full-time travel agent to co-ordinate the eight trips a year.

Each trip has its own special flavour and many have a musical theme or content. “Many trips sell out months in advance and we are now well known for providing special flavour, attention to detail and fun, with every day being an event and a wonderful experience for our travellers” said John Cameron.

One of the three directors goes on each concert tour and each overseas trip has one director who follows it from its inception and knows it inside out so they can solve any problems that arise on the way.

“Having a director on trips and at concerts also ensures we are on the spot for problem solving, quality control and adding the little extras that make our products anything but run of the mill” Cameron adds.

Operatunity also arranges corporate events, and for 18 years Class Act Opera, a branch of Operatunity introduced opera to nearly half a million school students.

“There is certainly not much down time” says Director Susan Boland. “We have built a reputation for quality. Too many arts companies go bust. A lot of that is to do with arts organisations telling the customer what they want, rather than asking. People seem to forget that music and the way it is presented must be enjoyable, why do it otherwise? That does not mean compromising quality. It means making music (and travel) accessible. The recipe for our success is great music but also great customer service. Everyone pretends to be so clever. Why not just present something that allows people to enjoy and love the music?”

With New Zealand arts organisations all crying out for more government funding, this does all seem so simple really, doesn’t it?

Contact us for any enquiries, bookings, or to request a free brochure:

P: 0508 266 237 (toll-free)
E: bookings@operatunity

(No booking or postage fees apply)

Daytime Concert Series venues are in: Howick, North Shore, Orewa, Papakura, Remuera, Te Atatu, Christchurch, Dunedin, Greymouth, Invercargill, Nelson, Timaru, Gisborne, Hamilton, Hastings, Kapiti, Lower Hutt, Masterton, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Rotorua, Tauranga, Wanganui, and Whangarei.

Please click on the following link for our daytime concert dates & venues in other cities around NZ:

Evening Concert Series venues are in: Orewa, Papakura, Epsom, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hokitika, Invercargill, Nelson, Timaru, Hamilton, Napier, Kapiti, Wellington, Wanaka, Kerkeri, Tauranga, Wanganui, and Whangarei.

Please click on the following link for our evening concert dates & venues in other cities around NZ:


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