Portland Opera launches Ensemble Leaders scholarship program
Portland Opera is thrilled to launch the Ensemble Leaders Fellowship Program, a new program of professional development opportunities for emerging opera directors focused on artistic operations, production and community engagement. The goal of the Ensemble Leaders Fellowship is to focus on providing meaningful career advancement experiences for emerging professionals who are Black, Indigenous, or of color.
Jasmine Johnson, an alumnus of Portland Opera’s Artist-in-Residence Program, was selected as Portland Opera’s inaugural Leaders Fellow Ensemble; and will help develop the program during its pilot year, coinciding with the 21/22 season.
“I am very honored to be the first to launch this scholarship program,” says Jasmine Johnson. “While being a Portland Opera Resident Artist, I learned so much about the company from a singer’s perspective. It’s really exciting to learn how the company works on the other side.”
Jasmine Johnson, mezzo-soprano, made her professional debut with Opera Parallèle at the world premiere of their original opera, Amazing Grace, in 2015. Engaged in new music, Johnson has also collaborated with Festival Opera to develop Wang jie‘s opera, Rated R for Rat (an eco-opera). Johnson received his Bachelor of Music, Masters of Music, and Postgraduate Diploma from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. During season 20/21, Jasmine was featured as a singer in the Portland Opera Resident Artist Series, as well as in Journeys to Justice and in community pop-up performances. In addition to her passion for singing and music, Jasmine’s interest in community engagement, arts administration and development deepened her passion for opera.
“The inspiration for launching this program came from discussions surrounding our core values of the whole and cultural fairness,” says Sue Dixon, CEO of Portland Opera. “When we talk about wanting to do transformative work and wanting to strengthen the inclusiveness of our whole, that has to come with an investment in the future, as well as immediate changes. We have realized that one way to to do so is to create this dedicated program to inspire new leadership and professional development that also focuses on synthesizing what is happening behind the scenes. “
The intention of the Ensemble Leader scholarship program is to increase its capacity and to welcome additional scholarship holders each year. During this inception year, the company will seek to expand the program and gather feedback from Ms. Johnson to identify repeatable and meaningful areas of interest and establish cross-departmental workflows. This is a paid scholarship program.
For the 21/22 season, Jasmine Johnson, head of the Portland Opera Ensemble, will focus on a variety of activities. She will lead a process to refocus and connect alumni of the Portland Opera Resident Artist Program, through research and conversations to recommend changes to strengthen the experience of future resident artists. She will also work closely with the Education and Community Engagement team to assist Portland Opera’s award-winning Opera a la Cart community program; as well as educational and community tours of Portland Opera To Go. Jasmine’s areas of interest will also include observing Executive Director Sue Dixon, as well as time spent with the external affairs department (marketing, development, communications and public relations). Jasmine will join the When the Sun Comes Out company (January – February 2022) as assistant manager; serve on several works councils and attend the OPERA America conference in 2022, on behalf of Portland Opera. Other activities, projects and areas of interest will develop based on feedback and opportunities.