Canada’s only disability-run opera company creates new platform


November 16, 2020 (Vancouver, BC) – As COVID closures impact arts organizations worldwide, one opera company is hosting a discussion about the future of their art form. On Tuesday, December 1st at 2:00 pm PST / 5:00 pm EST, Vancouver’s Opera Mariposa will present the online panel MAKING OPERA ACCESSIBLE: during the pandemic and beyond. The event tackles forms of discrimination like ableism and audism in opera, and how theatres can pave the way for safe reopenings that will welcome everyone – including those who are D/deaf, disabled, and at higher risk for COVID-19.

Opera Mariposa is Canada’s only disability-led and run opera company – a fact that general manager Stephanie Ko says informed the focus of the event. “Around 1 in 5 people live with a disability,” says Ko, “and COVID is actively adding to the number of people facing long-term health issues. As arts companies discuss how to navigate the pandemic, I think we also need to be talking about bringing down barriers to accessibility, to make sure that as we move forward, we aren’t leaving people behind.”

To advance this dialogue, Opera Mariposa has assembled a panel of nationally recognized and multi-award-winning speakers – among them, Deaf artist and opera creator Landon Krentz from Calgary; Disabled writer, performer and producer Ophira Calof from Toronto; and Vancouver pianist, chamber musician and radio host Karen Lee-Morlang, who is the artistic director of the Health Arts Society of BC.

“We’re really excited to welcome such diverse artists and advocates,” says Mariposa co-founder Robin Hahn, who will be moderating the discussion. “Our panelists have backgrounds not just in music, but in disability justice, LGBTQ+ advocacy, health policy reform and more. Opera is wonderful but can also be very traditional, so to us, bringing together folks with these intersectional backgrounds is a vital part of opening up the conversation.”

MAKING OPERA ACCESSIBLE will take place on Zoom, and will be accessible via Opera Mariposa’s website and social media. The event includes English captions and ASL interpretation, is free to the public, and is supported by Creative BC and the City of Vancouver.

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