The RBC Foundation


Giving Emerging Opera Professionals a Chance to Shine

Photo credit: Servants Anonymous Society of Calgary.

Photo credit: Servants Anonymous Society of Calgary.

Many Canadians may not realize it, but seldom does a night at the opera, symphony or play happen without input from a graduate of a program supported by RBC and its Emerging Artists Project. RBC believes in the power of the arts to enrich lives and enhance communities. With over 30 projects across Canada, the RBC Emerging Artists Project supports young artists as they bridge the gap from the academic to the professional world in such fields as theatre, music, writing, dance and filmmaking. Through this Project more than $900,000 was invested in apprenticeship and internship programs across Canada in 2009. Over the last five years, the RBC Foundation has  donated more than $5 million to support arts programs across Canada.

Through the RBC Emerging Artists Project, RBC provides support for the Ensemble Studio Program of the Canadian Opera Company (COC).

Founded in 1980, the Ensemble Studio Program is Canada’s premiere training program for young opera professionals. As a long-standing supporter of the COC, RBC saw  an  opportunity  to  help up and coming opera singers, directors, and conductors achieve  their dreams here and around the world. The Program provides advanced instruction, hands-on experience, and the practical career development skills necessary to succeed as a self-employed artist in a highly competitive international environment. In this program, singers receive vocal, theatrical and practical career instruction, which includes the opportunity to understudy major roles, and perform in the annual Xstrata Ensemble School tour, special Ensemble Studio chamber productions and COC mainstage productions. Apprentice stage directors, conductors and vocal coaches participate in the preparation of the company’s mainstage productions, as well as School Tour performances and Ensemble Studio productions. Since its inception, more than 150 young Canadian singers, opera coaches, stage directors and conductors have acquired their first professional operatic experience.

In addition to having an RBC senior executive on the COC board, the partnership has expanded to include several new opera experiences. Realizing that children are open to learning and listening to opera, a children’s opera performance  has  been added so that RBC After School Grant recipients as well as clients’ children and grandchildren can gain a new appreciation for the arts. Also, young singers participating in the Ensemble Studio are invited to perform at select RBC events each year.

“To maximize the impact of our donations, we focus our support on a select group of priority  projects – one of them being emerging artists,” said Shari Austin, vice president, Corporate Citizenship, RBC. “Through our Emerging Artists Project, RBC provides grants, like the one to the Ensemble Studio Program, which can empower an organization to educate, inspire, and celebrate the next generation of artists.”