FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
1. Q: What is the IRCPA mandate?
A: The mandate of the IRCPA is to help all performing artists in the classical music and ballet fields, to move into professional careers, with special attention to singers and dancers because of their short career spans. The IRCPA program includes Encounters with Employers, and the Business of Career Development. Opera Week includes Encounters with Vincenzo Scalera and Joan Dornemann. The Business of Career Development is scheduled in November.
2: Q: What’s the difference between masterclasses given at the university or opera school and the “Encounters” given by the IRCPA?
A: Masterclasses are in study programs.
The Encounters emulate the professional workings of an engagement in a Theatre. The singers sing once each day as they would in rehearsal, and the second day it is possible to see which singers were able to quickly integrate their new information, as is required on the job.
3 Q: Why do artists have such a gap between time of graduation and entry into performing?
A: Because all presenting organizations book artists two years in advance, opera companies sometime more.
4: Q: Why do artists have the expense of $95 average for job interviews?
A: This is the cost in Toronto to have an audition. If the job interview is in another city, the travel, hotel and accompanist must also be counted in the expense, without any guarantee of getting the job.
5: Q: Why does the IRCPA bring employers to Toronto instead of awarding grants to individual artists?
A: We feel that by bringing employers here, we can help 14 singers over a two day session, In the case of Opera Week, we are able to help 28 singers, thereby saving a great deal of money for the artists.
6: Q: Do all the singers in the Encounters develop careers?
A: Many do and many make important career decisions as a result.
Artists we have tracked are Adrianne Pieczonka, Isabelle Bayrakdarian, Measha Bruggergosman, Colin Ainsworth, Jean Stilwell, Kimberly Barber also actor Adam Brazier, to name a few. We’ve also helped accompanists and they are working in theatres outside Canada. We hope they will bring back their experiences to Canada. Toronto teachers who support the program include Mary Morrison, and Jean MacPhail.
7: Q: Why are performing artists usually the least considered in budget planning and yet the first to be asked to donate their services to raise money for disaster relief or other important causes?
A: We don’t have an answer to this.
8: Q: When was the IRCPA started?
A: It started in 1983 and was incorporated in 1985 as a charitable organization.
9: Q: Who are the employers that came to Toronto for Encounters?
A: Joan Dornemann came right from the beginning, Mark Hastings, Leon Major, Director; Regina Resnick; Shirley Verrett; Colin Graham; Renata Scotto came twice, Nico Castel, Janet Bookspan, Martin Isepp, Irving Guttman, to name a few.
10. Q: Why was the IRCPA started?
A: Ann Summers had been working with Joan Dornemann and other major people, including Joan Ingpen (who was head of the Metropolitan Opera’s young artists program, after being a major artist manager in England) on various programs in the US and in Europe (Austria and Italy). When Ann returned to Canada in 1977 for health reasons, she realized that there wasn’t anything similar in Toronto. Artists were asking for management but they weren’t ready for it. Ann spoke to Joan Dornemann, who said “You do it and I’ll come.” That was in 1983. Joan began her Israel program two years later, and Ann went there twice to help her.
We soon realized that the coaching wasn’t enough because languages were a problem, so we expanded to include Nico Castel for languages. Then it became apparent that stage protocol and interpretation were needed, so we expanded further and brought in Leon Major, a Canadian stage director working in the U.S. who created the Opera Centre at the University of Maryland.
Hugh Russell, baritone (featured in this Spring edition of Opera Canada) is quoted on the website regarding the counseling he got from Ann on career development during the Encounters.
“I would like to thank you for your recommendation that I audition for Bramwell Tovey. Due to that audition, I now have my first contract.”
- Hugh Russell, Baritone
Colin Graham hired Colin Ainsworth from the session to appear in St. Louis.
Q: How is the IRCPA funded?
A: In the beginning, the IRCPA had project grants from the Ontario Arts Council. Funding wasn’t possible from the Canada Council since at that time “training” was with the Province, and the Ontario government had cut it back. “Career Development” wasn’t recognized. A sizable grant from a Montreal foundation provided the means to make a coast-to-coast tour by Joan Dornemann and Ann Summers Dossena in 1991. Sponsors and private donors have been the main supporters.
Our Board members – who have had major careers spanning over several decades, and who have the knowledge and contacts – are trying to have the Centre and its programs recognized as the help that artists need to receive in Canada in order to succeed.
Office space is urgently needed, either for short term or more, for our volunteers to fundraise, to house a Reference Library of donated scores for artists to view, and, if possible, to give access to auditions without cost, a place for artists to meet, network, exchange ideas and receive mentoring. The objective is to make the Centre self sustaining, in part through a souvenir gift shop, by which the IRCPA can generate its own funds.