Iford Arts, the opera and concerts producer based in the South West of England, has appointed Michael Volpe, founder and former General Director of Opera Holland Park, as Interim Executive Director.
David Moss, Chairman of Iford Arts, said: ‘We are very pleased to welcome Michael to Iford Arts. His drive and enthusiasm combined with his huge experience will be of great value in helping us to strengthen the company and to flourish in the future.’
In partnership with Oliver Gooch, Iford's Artistic Director, Michael Volpe's primary aim over the coming crucial year is to help introduce and explore new strategic opportunities for the company and to bring his three decades of experience to invigorating and establishing its post-Covid development.
Oliver Gooch said: ‘I have long respected Michael’s achievements at Opera Holland Park and I am hugely looking forward to creating Iford Arts’ next chapter with him. His vision of what opera can represent and how it can develop as an art form excites me greatly.’
Michael Volpe said: ‘After taking early retirement from OHP, I was able to look at how the world of opera and the arts was developing during the Covid pandemic. It has been a torrid time but I also believe that an opportunity to completely re-evaluate the way we produce and enjoy opera and the performing arts has presented itself. Companies like Iford Arts have tremendous potential as well as flexibility and they are in a strong position to refashion their offer to supporters and audiences. With the growth in digital delivery, it is also a time for companies to expand their outputs with the specific aim of bringing new audiences back into the live performance realm.
‘It is, too, a critical time for the cultural world to use their art forms to play key roles in social cohesion and community recovery. We can't only be baubles - we must make our art available to those who work with the most disadvantaged in society because we all know just how powerful our work is in this regard. I am excited to be able to explore these new possibilities with Iford Arts over the next year to see what can be achieved.'
Iford Arts has a strong tradition of offering opportunities to young and emergent artists and Michael Volpe sees this as a key area for the future.
He added: ‘The opera industry has become top heavy in recent years, and emerging singers and other artistic personnel such as conductors, directors, designers and those wanting to work across all production disciplines find it hard to forge good, regular careers. Iford Arts has, like many other companies, played its part in trying to remedy this with a successful Young Artist programme. Covid has recalibrated the way that we need to think about the industry's sustainability and reach, and I hope to investigate this more thoroughly with Ollie as we go forward.
‘It is also time for the wider opera and arts ecology to coalesce; spreading wealth, resources, cross-cultural and pan-industry influence will mean more seeds are cast onto wider ground and this will benefit the entire recovery process. Collaborations between companies, large and small, will enable the industry to generate real momentum, encourage efficient use of the arts funding pot and create the conditions for audience growth in the post-Covid world. That benefits us all.'
Michael concludes: 'The main aim for the 2021 season is to present something to our patrons - like everybody they are eager to see and hear live performance again and we also want to thank them for their support through these strange times. We'll work with whatever restrictions are in place. The work of refashioning Iford Arts for the future is already underway and we have many exciting ideas and plans to bring to life for 2022'