Pacific Opera Victoria (POV) is a non-profit arts organization with about 13 staff and 80-100 volunteers. Founded in 1979, Pacific Opera is currently celebrating their 40th anniversary. Their main purpose is to create quality artistic opera productions for the community. POV strives to ensure they are a distinctive company with an irresistible arts program and an invaluable community feature. Pacific Opera’s mission is to be recognized for an inclusive arts culture, its artistic vision and for its community stewardship.
The POV works hand-in-hand with the Inter-Cultural Association (ICA) and the Community Partnership Network (CPN) to undertake initiatives to be more inclusive in their arts, culture and service work across diverse communities. The POV offers programs to welcome newcomers and promote inclusion and diversity. For example, the POV has an outreach program for newcomer youth, run in collaboration with the ICA, where they engage youth in activities such as karaoke, theater games and language proficiency. Additionally, they run a series called ‘Dialogues’ that generates conversation around topics related to the opera productions and connects the historical and the contemporary in art. Last fall, Pacific Opera produced an opera by Beethoven called Fidelio about a political prisoner and refugee. The company then organized and hosted a panel discussion and dialogue about the contemporary refugee experience with the community.
POV’s efforts to be more inclusive and diverse also extend to other community groups. For example, they work with the Victoria Native Friendship Center, providing outreach youth programs, as well as programming with elders and First Nation’s cultural advisors.
Rebecca Hass, Director of Community Engagement, stated that the reason Pacific Opera joined the CPN was “to learn about diversity workshops, to have guidance about how to create more diversity in the Pacific Opera office space, and how to remove any barriers between this company and the art we love to share and the community we live in.” Rebecca is excited to see the development over time of a more inclusive and diverse Victoria. She enjoys meeting new people in the organization and the audiences. She feels she is improving lives through her work. She says, “There is happiness on both sides.” The opera’s aim is to engage with diverse audiences and be a part of the community. As Rebecca states, “You need diversity in order to be a good community member.”
Hass with ANSWER drum group promoting Language Revitalization in Indigenous Communities