Livestreaming opera into schools
6 Mar 2019
6 Mar 2019
In the last decade, performing arts organisations around the world and across a variety of art forms have turned to livestreaming technology in a bid to increase access and promote what they do to a wider audience.
When it comes to arts education, the use of technology has been employed by arts organisations for some time, providing teachers with online programs to build into lesson plans or professional development resources to aid in delivering the content. Some bigger organisations overseas make recordings and livestreamed performances of concerts and productions available for free, however this form of delivery is not as common in Australia.
In 2018, Victorian Opera launched its innovative Access All Areas: Livestream Program, which uses online technology to teach primary school students across Victoria about opera. The program consists of four educational workshops livestreamed into classrooms, followed by students watching an opera performance – Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel in 2018 – either live at the theatre or, if situated remotely, livestreamed into their classrooms.
The workshops have been designed to give students a fun and in-depth introduction to opera. Over four weeks, students learn about opera as an art form and the story of the production, as well as gaining rare behind-the-scenes access to the rehearsal room, the design process, behind the curtain at the theatre and into the orchestra pit. To maintain interactivity and engagement, students and teachers watching online were able to contribute their thoughts and questions via a live chat forum throughout the workshop.
Without replacing the live theatre experience, the workshops aim at engaging students more deeply with the art form while a livestreamed performance opens access to opera to regional students who cannot attend a live performance at the theatre.
This program has allowed Victorian Opera to build on its previous education program where representatives physically attended schools to deliver one-hour in-classroom workshops. By turning to livestreaming technology, it enables the company to reach more students and, through the workshops, expose students to other important elements in creating opera meaning they were much more engaged in the theatre when it came to performance time.
‘My favourite thing about this program is that it gives those students who are in the more remote parts of the state the chance to experience a very unique art form and hopefully engages them enough to inspire a life-long love for it,’ reflects Victorian Opera’s Education Officer Ioanna Salmanidis.
By giving schools the option to access the workshops and a performance through livestreaming technology, Victorian Opera was been able to engage with 1,400 primary school students state-wide in 2018 and give them a unique first taste of opera. Some of these students were from schools in areas such as Indigo and Penshurst, places where the company has never performed and where students both discovered what opera was and experienced it for the first time.
With crowded curriculums and low funding for in-school music education programs, arts organisations need to develop and deliver easily accessible education programs allowing students to engage with them in a way they usually would not. A livestreaming program like Access All Areas allows Victorian Opera to not only bring opera into schools in a very modern way, but also provide an in-depth introduction to our work and plenty of time to highlight why it is special.