Posted 21 Dec
Tony Burton, chairman of Friends of Scottish Opera and board member of Scottish Opera, recently gave some time to speak to Iain Fraser of OperaScotland about recent changes.
How long have you been Chair of the Friends of Scottish Opera?
About eighteen months now.
Looking back, what were your first impressions?
When I became chairman I found there were a lot of very enthusiastic people, but overall the number of members had been declining for ten years. I wanted to try and do something about it.
I also found that the arrangements for managing committees seemed complicated. We've merged the Executive and the Council. The Council was the one that brought people from all over Scotland. The Executive was chosen from the Council. We decded to have just one level so we designed the Council as it now is. Also, we thought there was not enough interaction with the management of Scottish Opera. We set up a working party between Friends and senior management. This was of course not on the artistic side, but involved executives from the marketing/financial side. This has helped increase understanding all round.
What is the aim of the Friends?
To encourage and increase attendances at Scottish Opera performances. We have a network of local branches that meet regularly to hear speakers and learn about opera.
What other changes have been made?
Well, after some debate we've made it possible for Friends to attend dress rehearsals, conditional on them having bought a ticket for a performance.
We've now got a motto - "Join the Friends and make Friends." More and more people live on their own, and are perhaps reluctant to go to a theatre. We now have designated areas in theatres Scottish Opera visit where you can meet Friends, recognisable by the badge we all wear. We can enjoy opera together.
Brio, the magazine for Friends, now comes out four times a year and is becoming increasingly interesting.
What do you plan for the future?
Of course we will carry on developing working relationships with Scottish Opera. We will improve marketing and get more people involved. We are also looking at other benefits we can add to make the membership package even more attractive. Most people have to travel to go to events. Some have to go quite a distance and we're wondering how we can help here.
There will be more improvements in the due course but all ideas are welcome.
If you are not a member, why not consider joining the Friends? If you already are, why not bring a friend?
Benefits include advance notice of all Scottish Opera’s activities and priority booking of Scottish Opera performances. Local branches throughout Scotland offer a variety of talks, discussions and social activities, providing an opportunity to share your interest with others. Formal meetings of Friends are listed on this site, giving the 'when' and 'where'. Meetings are also ‘open’ – why not go along to one nearby? And if you can, bring someone else with you...
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