What We Did
The process began with a workshop, led by Tonic, involving staff from across our Opera, Ballet and Orchestra companies in the question of why so few women conductors are employed at The Royal Opera House.
Following that, Tonic interviewed members of staff, including Kasper Holten, Director of Opera, John Fulljames, Associate Director of Opera, Peter Katona, Director of Casting, David Syrus, Head of Music, Sarah Crabtree, Senior Producer (Opera), Kate Hodson, Learning and Participation Manager (Opera), Kevin O’Hare, Director of The Royal Ballet, Koen Kessels, Music Director of the Royal Ballet, Emma Southworth, Senior Producer of The Royal Ballet’s Studio Programme, Rachel Hollings, Artistic Administrator of The Royal Ballet, Sally Mitchell, Orchestra Administrative Director and David Gowland, Artistic Director of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme, asking for views on the question and exploring the way we work.
We looked into women’s experience of beginning, building and sustaining a career in conducting. Tonic held one to one interviews with women conductors who have worked with us over the years and some who haven’t. Tonic also spoke to the Royal Academy of Music and Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and observed and surveyed attendees of the Morley College Women Conductors workshops for ballet and opera, hosted at the Royal Opera House in 2016.
Further information was gathered from reading on and offline and augmented by input from Christina Scharff, Senior Lecturer in the department of Culture, Media and Creative Industries at Kings College London, author of Equality & Diversity in the Classical Music Profession and whose current research interest is Music, Gender & Entrepreneurialism, and Tonic’s academic partners, Central School of Speech and Drama.
Insights from the research were fed back to Royal Opera House staff through a series of meetings with a working group dedicated to the Advance project. Following discussion of insights we looked carefully at our own operations and began to identify how existing approaches, structures and activities could be developed – with partners across the sector – to support women better.
“We were aware that representation of women amongst the conductors we work with was low. Tonic’s tool for gender tracking confirmed that this was so. We are committed to continued use of the tool for tracking the gender of conductors we engage and work with, as well as those employed in creative roles across Royal Opera and Royal Ballet productions.”