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The Impact of COVID-19 on the Performing Arts: Webinar with Lyric Opera of Chicago's Anthony Freud

In this webinar, GG+A CEO John Glier talks to Anthony Freud, General Director, President and CEO of Lyric Opera of Chicago on “The Impact of COVID-19 on the Performing Arts.”

Anthony Freud, General Director, President and CEO of Lyric Opera of Chicago

While the Lyric Opera has continued to raise money throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it has spent considerable time adjusting both its short-term and long-term strategies, as well as its next campaign, he said in the webinar. “This period of uncertainty means the plans we had, and the intentions that we had outlined eight weeks ago, need to be reinvented and rethought,” he said.

However, he remains optimistic that the arts in general, and the Lyric Opera in particular, will return and will be “more indispensable than ever.”

Below is a question from a webinar participant and Anthony Freud’s response.

Q: How do you encourage, and continue, to foster interests in the performing arts while so many aspects of the theatre/opera are rapidly changing due to COVID?

That’s a great question as the cultural landscape is changing so quickly and, above all else, we need to be flexible and nimble. At Lyric, we are focused each day on continuing to engage our existing audiences in expected and unexpected ways, while working hard to attract newcomers to our art form and our company.

We have established communication strategies, via our digital and social channels, to share excerpts from main stage opera performances, find humor and fun in our art form through puzzles and games, publish new articles and share insights into the company. We are also fortunate to have our Ryan Opera Center professional development program artists still working at Lyric and able to produce terrific new work from their homes and offer glimpses into their ongoing training.

Audience retention, audience engagement and audience development are key aspects to every part of the company right now. Led by our marketing and digital teams, we’ve seen great increases in consumption of our content and we’re constantly experimenting to find new and innovative ways to keep Lyric in the hearts and minds of our audiences and stakeholders, serving their needs as we share the experience of these uncertain times. We’re also keen to collaborate with our peer cultural, civic and arts organizations, through partnerships not previously imagined.

One thing is certain – Lyric will continue to evolve.

About Anthony Freud

Anthony Freud became general director of Lyric Opera of Chicago in October 2011. In addition to directing the company’s artistic and business operations, he has led in-depth strategic planning and business remodeling processes with the Board of Directors, conceived of and developed the Lyric Unlimited initiative, and is forging important new relationships with a variety of other cultural and community organizations.

Freud is recognized internationally for his achievements as general director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, and previously of both Houston Grand Opera (2006-11) and Welsh National Opera (1994-2005). In 2006, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his services to music. He is the only person ever to have served as chair of both OPERA America and Opera Europa, and currently serves as a member of OPERA America’s board of directors.

He chaired the jury for the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition (1995-2005) and was also a board member of the National Opera Studio in London (1994-2005). He has served on the juries of numerous international singing competitions. Freud was an executive producer for Philips Classics (1992-94), where he managed recording projects for some of the world’s leading classical artists. He was director of opera planning for Welsh National Opera (1988-92), and was previously company secretary (1984-88). Freud began his professional life at London’s famous Sadler’s Wells Theatre (1980-84), where his duties included those of theater manager and company manager.

Freud attended his first opera at age 4, became a regular operagoer in his teens, and has said that by the time he was 14 he knew he wanted to run an opera company. Freud graduated with honors with a law degree from the University of London King’s College in 1978 and qualified as an attorney in 1979, but chose instead to follow his passion for opera.

Supporting the Lyric

Those who wish to support the remarkable Lyric Opera of Chicago can contribute to their Heroes’ Fund. The Heroes’ Fund was created in response to the devastating financial loss that the Lyric incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This fund matches generous contributions by their loyal patrons dollar-for-dollar.

To hear more of Anthony Freud’s insights, watch the webinar below.

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