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Friends of Scottish Opera take stock

Posted 2 Nov 2014

How many recognise the image shown here? The photograph shows the badge worn by members of the Friends of Scottish Opera. Look out for the badge at performances. Please say hello and introduce yourself!

At the well-attended AGM of the Friends on Wednesday 23 October, the chair, Tony Burton, brought members up to date with the thinking of the working party. This has been set up to consider ways the Friends could grow support for Scottish Opera throughout the country and beyond. The Friends, as always, are aware of the need to evolve in response to changing times. 

Tony announced the opening of a period of consultation regarding a possible merger of the Friends with Scottish Opera itself. Both are charitable bodies, and with both now having to meet the requirements of the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), it seemed wise to consider whether one such body would suffice. Possible advantages would include the ability to work even more closely with individuals in Scottish Opera itself, and elimination of the administrative burdens associated with becoming chair or treasurer of a branch. This could in turn make it easier to attract new members. While the economy at present appears to be sluggish, fortunately there still seems to be plenty of interest among both young and old. The scope for increasing opera-going, membership of the Friends and the enjoyment of opera is huge. Arguably, it has never been more important to increase activity in this area.

However Tony stressed that no decisons on its direction had yet been taken. The insight, help and advice of members were sought and welcomed so that the activities of Friends throughout the country would be encouraged. For example, Tony suggested Friends members themselves could work to put together a written list of guiding principles to help shape and support development.

There is plenty of scope for optimism, with evidence of energy and interest in opera. Some of those present drew attention to different innovations across the network. For example, branches like Perth have introduced cinema visits to encourage enjoyment of opera - would this be taken into account? And with an eye to encouraging future audiences, what about a special discount on Friends membership for young people?

After the close of the formal business, Laura Margaret Smith sang an aria from Fledermaus and one from Cenerentola, accompanied by Lliam Paterson. Both had recently been appointed Emerging Artists of Scottish Opera, and gave a fine account of themselves.  Those attending then enjoyed some socialising.

The coming season offers an attractive and varied programme of Friends events and social occasions, which each month feature on the OperaScotland website. Why don't you find one that is to your taste, go along and join in? And even better, why not bring a friend to the Friends?

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