The activities of the Learning and Participation team involve planning, developing and delivering educational and awareness-raising programs for children, members of vulnerable community groups and the society as a whole, that showcase the GNO’s cultural contribution and its vision to make opera and ballet accessible to everyone.
Starting with opera, ballet and musical theatre, the GNO’s educational and social activities will put music and dance at the heart of a diverse plexus of art disciplines and their many variants including theatre, literature, the visual arts, photography, music therapy, storytelling, video, installation art, as well as non-artistic fields of research and practice, such as the environment, science and technology.
The GNO’s educational and community arts projects are designed to cultivate and develop a symbiotic relationship between artists/teachers and participants, regardless of age, cultural and social background, knowledge or skills. Learning is treated as a context-led inclusive creative process that is constantly redefined by the societal context in which learning takes place. Values such as freedom of expression, accessibility, mutual respect, interaction, apperception, experimentation, acceptance of diversity, collaboration, shared ownership of the process and the outcome and networking constitute the philosophy of the GNO’s Learning and Participation programming.
The GNO’s participation and learning programs aim to rise to society’s ever-growing demand for the arts to play a vital role and contribute to the everyday life, through reaching out to a wider range of residents of Attica and the rest of Greece.
The GNO is pushing its outward-looking approach even further, expanding into the field of creative learning and community arts, through the programming of Learning and Participation that engages with hard to reach community groups, young people, students, adults and people that reside/live in hospitals and prisons.
Learning and Participation at the Alternative Stage of the GNO
George Koumendakis, Head of Artistic Programming of the Alternative Stage of the GNO is aiming to nurture and encourage creative innovation, practice-based research and creative learning across the programming of the educational and community-arts projects of the Alternative Stage of the GNO. Through the application of pioneering educational methods, the Alternative stage will function as a coherent, adaptable and viable hub for the arts and the community. Workshops and performances will be hosted within its morning zone, that is dedicated to Education, and its afternoon zone, dedicated to community arts.
The Alternative Stage of the GNO is willing to bring together all the art forms, that constitute the art of music theatre, and therefore transform its facilities and the Park of SNFCC into a point of arrival and departure of all its learning and participation programs. The curation and implementation of its programming is based on the collaboration with educational and social organisations, as well as with a variety of community groups that reside in the neighbouring municipalities of SNFCC, the entire Attica and the rest of Greece. Through sustaining an ongoing dialogue with all the above, the Alternative Stage of the GNO will realise its shared vision for creative innovation in the arts.
In the 2016-2017 artistic season, Learning and Participation projects will kick off with an extensive range of extramural activities and in 2017-2018 an even wider programme will be presented covering all GNO venues at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre and in neighbouring municipalities around Athens as well as across the entire territory of Greece.
At the same time, GNO plans to continue the ambitious educational programme that traveled to 70 schools throughout Greece, in the last years. The programme is entitled “Interactive Opera for Primary Schools” and is partially funded by the EU-backed National Strategic Reference Framework. The aim of the programme was to introduce primary school pupils to the magical world of opera by allowing them to participate in the production process. The next part of this programme will be focused on elementary school pupils.
Musicians and artist leaders/music teachers Evi Nakou, Eva Karterou, Dina Strani, and Thalia-Mari Papadopoulou are the driving force behind the design, coordination and organisation of all the Learning and Participation programming, that is being funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
In addition, the Greek National Opera is investing in education by moulding a new generation of Greek artists.
Over the past few years, the GNO has made a concerted effort to upgrade the Opera Studio, a two-year study programme aimed at coaching young soloists who are selected for the course after attending auditions. Young soloists are taught the technical aspects of opera by acclaimed singers, directors and conductors, so that they once they leave the Opera Studio they are in a position to perform to the high standards of the art.
The GNO Dance School, which began operating in 1995 as a ballet studio, has functioned as a higher education institute since 2004 under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture. It provides professional training to young dancers, preparing them for a high-calibre career in classical dance.
In September 2012, the GNO formed its own Children's Chorus. Over 80 children were selected through auditions and, under the guidance of acclaimed artist Mata Katsouli, perform in concerts and participate in the GNO's opera productions.