Our community programmes stretch across the country and beyond – working within the industry to effect systemic change, reaching thousands of schools through teacher training and direct engagement and embedding culture at the heart of communities.
Through special events, workshops and multi-year programmes, we work with audiences from across the world, engage with communities from Devon to Newcastle, and partner with over 150 UK organisations to ensure that individuals everywhere can enjoy ballet and opera.
Every year, we work with specific adult community groups in London – usually either underrepresented within the sector or underserved by society – offering projects spanning several weeks. The aim of these projects is to provide a creative space for Royal Opera House artists and external participants to come together, sharing their experiences and creating their own work inspired by ballet and opera stories.
2022/23 CREATIVE EXCHANGES
Over the 2022/23 Season, we are running six Creative Exchanges. This includes:
June 2021 - December 2022
The Royal Opera House’s #ThankYouNHS programme across 2021 and 2022 included a suite of activities, partnerships and heavily-discounted performances for NHS workers, specially designed to thank them for their extraordinary work over the pandemic and beyond.
The programme began in June 2021 with Puccini’s La bohème, sung to an auditorium of staff from ROH’s nearest hospitals: Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, and University College Hospital London. Over the next year, NHS workers were invited to special Family Sunday events, the 2021 Paul Hamlyn Christmas Treat and a number of dedicated performances in Covent Garden. In a first for the ROH, the Royal Opera Chorus also partnered with more than 30 hospital radio stations across the country, from Cornwall to the Isle of Man, to share highlights from the opera repertory with thousands of patients, doctors and hospital workers. An hour of specially recorded songs – including the famous ‘Habanera’ from Bizet’s Carmen, and extracts from Mozart’s La clemenza de Tito, Così fan tutte, and Verdi’s Rigoletto – was broadcast in May 2021.
The programme culminated on Saturday 17 December 2022 with the Paul Hamlyn Christmas Treat – a day of pop-up events and activities generously supported by The Helen Hamlyn Trust, in memory of the late Paul Hamlyn. The day of entertainment included Ballet Barre workshops, demonstrations by members of The Royal Ballet School, storytelling activities, Q&A sessions with dancers from The Royal Ballet, and a performance of The Nutcracker. It was offered to nurses through Nurses’ Trusts, with tickets costing as little as £1.
To date, over 14,400 tickets have been sold through the scheme, with many NHS workers and their families using the opportunity to visit the Royal Opera House for the first time.
1980s - 2021
For over 30 years, Monday Moves, the Royal Opera House’s class for visually impaired adults, challenged the perception of ballet as a predominantly visual art form.
The classes took place on a weekly basis in the De Valois Studio. Initially, they focused on exercise, stretching, and free movement as a way to help visually impaired people improve their posture. Shortly after Stanley Hamilton – the class’s original teacher – sadly fell ill in the early 2010s, The Royal Ballet’s Creative Associate, David Pickering, took over as main teacher and shifted the focus towards ballet.
The legacy of the Monday Moves programme is keenly felt, and points raised by the group have inspired internal conversations about access at the organisation. A full article is available to read below.
In 2019, the Royal Opera House's Create & Dance team partnered with Coventry schools, the Local Cultural Education Partnership (CCEP), Coventry City Council and Coventry City of Culture to address a perceived gap in inclusive dance provision.
The programme continued throughout the pandemic – offering online events, training days, and a 'Live Assembly' with Principals from The Royal Ballet – and it upscaled in the years since, inspiring the creativity of children across the city. At the end of 2022, it won Gold in the prestigious Pearson National Teaching Awards, under the ‘Impact through Partnership’ category and in collaboration with Coventry schools, and was recognised for the real impact it has had on children in the community.
September 2019 - current
The Royal Opera House has an ongoing, ambitious partnership with Cast and Doncaster Council, designed to improve access to arts provision across the city.
The partnership began in September 2019, after Ed Miliband (MP for Doncaster North) approached Director of The Royal Ballet Kevin O’Hare to explore the possibility of a programme of performances in the area, based off the success of the Company’s involvement in Hull City of Culture.
Following a year of postponements due to COVID-19, the partnership was recently extended, with the aim to reach most schools in the borough by July 2023 and create invaluable opportunities across Doncaster to develop young talent through dance, music and theatre craft.
Ed Miliband, who helped establish 'Doncaster Creates', said: 'I am delighted to see our local community bring together The Royal Ballet, Cast and the Local Authority to harness the power of creativity and bring our community together.'
Deborah Rees, Director of Cast, added: ‘This partnership marks a shared ambition for culture in Doncaster. Positive outcomes for local young people remain our greatest challenge as a town and our most exciting opportunity to inspire a generation. Culture should be an essential part of every childhood, so to see every school participate in, and enjoy, this fantastic cultural experience is a great step forward in our collective responsibility to help our children thrive.’
Since December 2010
We are proud to call Thurrock our second home, and have a dedicated team based in the High House Production Park, Purfleet. The site is home to the Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop and the Costume Centre, as well as a dedicated Learning and Participation team who work with the local community.
Throughout the year, we run busy and ambitious programmes with schools and residents. The Thurrock team works closely with ROH Bridge to deliver projects and make connections with neighbouring counties – Essex, Havering, Dagenham and Barking and Grays – and are committed to giving the borough's children and young people the best opportunity to discover and explore the arts as part of their school life.
In October 2021, we welcomed Little Amal to Covent Garden, joining other major arts organisations to help highlight the urgent needs of young refugees.
The event, attended by refugee groups from across London, was one of over 100 making up 'The Walk' – a visionary travelling festival, produced by Good Chance Theatre, that brought together celebrated artists, major cultural institutions, community groups and humanitarian organisations in an act of solidarity with the displaced, and in defiance of the borders that endanger their lives.
Over several months, the cane and carbon-fibre puppet travelled 8,000 km from the borders of Syria to the UK, representing the urgent needs of young refugees. She spent the eve of her tenth birthday in the Paul Hamlyn Hall, being sung and danced to sleep by artists from across the capital.
Royal Opera House Covent Garden Foundation, a charitable company limited by guarantee incorporated in England and Wales (Company number 480523) Charity Registered (Number 211775)