Only BAMEs need apply to Opera North

Only BAMEs need apply to Opera North


norman lebrecht

August 23, 2018

The latest blast of positive discrimination:

Opera North is seeking applications from music-makers from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds living in the north of England, for its second programme of Resonance residencies, supported by the PRS Foundation.

Launched in 2017, Resonance offers professional artists in all genres the opportunity to develop new performance ideas. Successful applicants will receive up to a week of free rehearsal space in central Leeds in March and April 2019, a grant of up to £3,000 to cover fees and other costs, support and advice from technicians, producers and other specialists, and an optional ‘work in progress’ performance.

Four artists, Nwando Ebizie, Thandanani Gumede, Moji Kareem and Christella Litras took part in the first Resonance residencies in March this year. You can see a short film on their experiences here.

An Opera North children’s production



  • Lowry says:

    Ah. Positive discrimination then. Shameful. Best person for the job no longer acceptable nowadays?

    • Interested Party says:

      ‘Best person for the job’ has NEVER been the way it has worked, least of all in opera. Nearly 15% of the population are BAME, but I could probably count with my 10 fingers the number of colleagues of mine (and I work in major opera houses throughout Europe) who are BAME.
      So please do not assume that just because it has always been white men who get the jobs, that we (yes, I am one…) are naturally the best people for the job. If there are talented BAME artists out there who haven’t yet been able to get through the doors, or think that opera’s not for them, or are scared by an unwelcoming industry, then schemes like this are VITAL to change the image our industry has, enrich our artform and truly find the best people for the job.

      • V.Lind says:

        *If there are talented BAME artists out there who haven’t yet been able to get through the doors, or think that opera’s not for them, or are scared by an unwelcoming industry, then schemes like this are VITAL to change the image our industry has, enrich our artform and truly find the best people for the job.*

        I wholeheartedly agree with this. But let’s see how many candidates fitting these criteria present, shall we? I do not mean for just this one time — not every talent is ready for this opportunity this minute. These schemes must continue, along with other initiatives that are designed to open opera up to all who love it and are able to make it happen with one talent or another.

        Just don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Let’s recall that the roots of opera are in the EUROPEAN music tradition, and that plain old white folks are trying to hang on to — and continue to participate in –THEIR traditions in a society where sometimes the voice of other traditions outscreams them.

        • Interested Party says:

          Let’s also remember that racial heritage needn’t necessarily have anything to do with people’s sense of belonging to a society and culture. Of course I see your point, and understand there is at reason why we have an imbalance, but there are plenty of BAME people who have grown up in the UK/Europe/wherever who are either fully integrated or have never know anything else.

          I’m pleased you agree with the crux of what I’m saying, but please consider what you’re actually implying in the second paragraph of your response. Why on earth do I, as white German/British male deserve greater ownership of western art? Do you really believe in this birthright? I am not responsible for the creation of this tradition, and nor are you! We (I assume) simply share the skin colour and a few ancient distant relatives. Those who either justify people’s exclusion from what they consider their own traditions on the basis of racial heritage, or quibble about the great efforts going into improving diversity in the arts tend to be those pedalling this fascistic and frankly prehistoric nonsense that the tradition is OURS. If we truly believe in ‘best (wo)man for the job’, then we should fling open the doors and let everyone in.

          So, how about we listen for a change, rather than worrying that the voices of people that aren’t like us are going to ‘outscream’ us, because it all reeks of ‘I’m not racist but…’

          • V.Lind says:

            I’m not implying greater ownership. I’m implying greater interest. I want the doors WIDE open, all the time. And I support this initiative because it is upfront and in your face, declaring the doors are open, and as I said they must stay so, as not everyone is ready this minute.

            But there are so many art forms, and there is some reason to believe that some communities are more interested in something that comes from their own heritage than in classical music, which — in the case of many — does not. The HUGE East Asian uptake of the classics shows that the arts are truly international. But there has consistently been less interest from the black communities in the UK and US, with obvious exceptions. If that is because they have been denied opportunities, by all means let’s put an AGGRESSIVE stop to that.

            I am not so sure of some British Asian communities, some of whom originate in countries where ANY music is forbidden. It would be lovely to see their exposure in England open them to interest in Don Giovanni. But it seems unlikely. This is the community whose screams I have been thinking of above, from Rushdie to Boris Johnson. Not sure if there is a merge available there. But I would be delighted if there were — Barenboim obviously thinks there is.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Ethnic minority (e.g. Black and Asian) people make up much less than 15 percent of the population in Britain.

        And at EU level (we live in a European labour market, at least until Brexit actually happens) the proportion of BAME is actually, less than 1 percent of the EU population.

  • Irrelohe says:

    What do they mean by “minority ethnic backgrounds”? I am German. Am I allowed to apply?

    • Jeremy Bines says:

      Yes, if you’re black, Asian or minority ethnic and living in the north of England. If you’re white, then this residency need not be on your radar and you can safely jog on.

    • Cardinal Phang says:

      German is not an ethnicity. Tough luck. But if you want to re-examine the current progressive hierarchy of grievances, try this (most favored at the top, most despised at the bottom):
      7 points: Blacks
      6 points: Muslims
      5 points: Hispanics
      4 points: Trannies
      3 points: Gays
      2 points: White Women who hate white men
      1 point: White Men who hate themselves
      0 points: Asians
      -10 points: White Men or Women who don’t hate themselves
      -100 points: White Men or Women who not only don’t hate themselves but are vocally pro-white

  • Interested Party says:

    What you are referring to is seemingly a specifically targeted scheme which rightly attempts to address some of the lack of balance in our industry, not a statement that only BAME applicants will be considered for employment at Opera North. This is incredible prejudiced reporting.

    • Jeremy Bines says:

      There’s no doubt about it. In a country where the provision of arts education is increasingly accessible only to the privileged, BAME artists are woefully underrepresented. In short, the arts in the U.K. are getting posher and whiter.

      When a residency scheme tries to redress the imbalance a tiny bit, anyone in their right mind should be applauding it, not shooting it down. Turning it into a story about perceived “positive discrimination” is just dog whistle stuff which just brings out the open racists (see above). It’s a hell of a road to go down.

    • Claire says:

      If you wanted fair and balanced reporting this is not the website you should look for it.

  • luigi nonono says:

    Tokenism is an insult to any talent, and not going to bring out the best in anyone.