Ballet and opera… they’re not for students, right? It’s too elite, too expensive, and too much like hard work to try and engage in something that doesn’t seem to include people our age.
These are the stereotypes that the Royal Opera House, and particularly their ROH Students initiative, are breaking down. The arts need new patrons in order to survive in an increasingly technological world, and millennials and Generation Z’s are the people to carry them forward. It is with this understanding that the Royal Opera House is running a series of programmes to open themselves up to new audiences and new ideas.
Days such as Schools’ Matinees for secondary school trips, and Welcome Performances for younger children enables students to discover and explore ballet, opera and dance in more accessible means. However, it is students who will be able to have the greater impact sooner on sustaining the arts. It is students who will be finding independence, earning sooner, and having families who can then continue the cycle of supporting culture and holding up a mirror to society. Through the creative arts, we are able to showcase the sublime and the ridiculous in equal measure, from balletic adaptations of Shakespeare to operas about noses. It is this diversity that reaches out to as many people as possible. It would be very easy for the Opera House to fulfil the stereotype and only put on performances that would appeal to ‘higher-brow’ audiences that would pull in a substantial income. What they have though is the understanding that they must establish a new group of performance enthusiasts to keep the arts sustainable.
This is where the ROH Students initiative comes in. Every season, the Opera House sets aside more than 10,000 dedicated student tickets, with prices ranging from £1 to £25 on these student-only tickets, opening up the House to every kind of budget. As well as the tickets, they hold Student Insight events that further expands the reach of every aspect of performance, such as costume and props. Students also get the chance to become Student Ambassadors and promote the scheme to their universities, receiving training days throughout the year, getting valuable experience working within a figurehead institution, and the chance to run events on campus under the banner of the Royal Opera House in an easily accessible situation for the area they understand the most: their university.