The Royal Opera House unveils a week-long programme of activity to celebrate International Women’s Day 2021

The Royal Opera House is delighted to announce a week of activity to mark International Women’s Day 2021.  

Join us from Monday 8 March as we celebrate International Women’s Day 2021 and host a week of events, broadcasts and discussions that go behind the scenes to explore the lives of women in our industry today. 

Across the week, we will shine a light on and celebrate female achievement, as well as take a stark look at the continuing and pervasive inequality that exists today in the creative industries and beyond. From industry leaders and artists, to our own Royal Opera House staff, we will celebrate the inspirational women tackling inequality and working to support female empowerment across the creative industries.  

Kicking off the week, the Royal Opera House Insights series returns for the first time in 2021 with a live discussion – Influence, challenge, and change: What is next for women in the creative industries? 

In a free broadcast on the Royal Opera House YouTube channel at 7pm GMT on Monday 8 March, the distinguished panel of top figures in the arts world will explore what impact women have on the arts today, what needs to change and what active steps we can take to improve gender equality in the creative industry and society at large.  

Arifa Akbar

Arifa Akbar, chief theatre critic of The Guardian, will chair a panel of arts industry leaders including curator, writer and Director of Tate Modern Frances Morris, alongside lighting designer and Associate Director of the National Theatre Paule Constable. Paule is one of the founder members of Freelancers Make Theatre Work campaigning passionately for the freelance voice. 

Indhu Rubasingham, Artistic Director of Kiln Theatre and trustee of the Royal Opera House, joins the panel alongside South African soprano Pretty Yende who made her Royal Opera debut in 2017 as Adina in Laurent Pelly’s production of L’elisir d’amore. Pretty has also performed at La Scala, Milan, Metropolitan Opera, New York, Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, Deutsche Oper, Berlin and Paris Opéra. 

As gender disparity has become even more pronounced over the course of the pandemic, discussion will focus on what steps the arts can take to call out inequality, actively support and represent women in the arts, and redress the balance and pervasive inequality in our industry. We ask our panel what is next for women in the creative industries.  

Indhu Rubasingham (c) Mark Douet

From 8 March at 6pm GMT, head to the Royal Opera House’s Instagram channel to watch a unique conversation between American choreographer Pam Tanowitz and Royal Ballet First Soloist Beatriz Stix-Brunell exploring the process of creating Tanowitz’s critically acclaimed 2019 work Everyone Keeps Meher first work for The Royal Ballet. This unmissable conversation will explore female choreography in the 21st century and female role models in the dance world.  

Beatriz StixBrunell, Royal Ballet First Soloist comments:  

‘International Women’s Day celebrates the economic, social, cultural, and political successes of women. When I think of people who have made impressions throughout my career, Pam Tanowitz is at the forefront. It was a privilege for me to work with her in Everyone Keeps Me and discover her unique language in dance, the movement feeling at once humble and bold – an important, honest, and distinctly female voice.’ 

Throughout the week, the Royal Opera House will place a spotlight on the work of the Engender Network. Established by The Royal Opera two years ago, Engender aims to highlight and grow the wealth of female talent both onstage and behind the scenes. It provides space and opportunity for personal development, peer support and creation of new work as well as conversations about gender in opera and exploring the barriers to equality. The network is open to all women and non-binary people in opera. Membership has grown from 80 to 180 during the pandemic and has become a vital resource for creative relationships and the cultivation of new ideas. 

Artists of The Royal Ballet in Everyone Keeps Me (c) ROH 2019, photographed by Bill Cooper.

Kate Wyatt, Creative Producer for The Royal Opera and Founder Director at Opera UK says:  

‘At a time when the pandemic is having a disproportionately negative impact on women, it is more important than ever to ensure we do not regress in our drive for equality. Engender is a place for women to connect with, and support each other, to amplify the work of women in opera, to have a collective voice. We want to increase the amount of female-led work on our stages and ensure more women are involved backstage, in production, administration and planning. The rapid growth of the membership during the pandemic shows needs for change.’  

On Facebook we will premiere two filmed songs, created following an Engender/Jette Parker Young Artists (JPYA) event which paired composers with librettists. Monday 8 March at 1pm GMT will see the screening of Kind Regards. Composed by Lillie Harris with words by Laura Attridge, the song is performed by soprano April Koyejo-Audiger and is directed by TD. Moyoa graduate of JPYA’s 2020 opera director training programme 

On Thursday 11 March at 1pm GMT we will premiere a recital of I am not yours – Mother Nature  a piece composed by Anna Semple. Written by Susannah Pearse who also participated in the JPYA Women’s Empowerment workshop for opera makers led by Katie Mitchell in December 2020, the work is performed by JPYA mezzo-soprano Stephanie Wake-Edwards accompanied by Caroline Dowdle.   

Continuing the Royal Opera House’s celebration of female empowerment in the arts, Royal Opera House Deputy Director of Technical and Production Emma Wilson examines Women in Technical Theatre, Let’s Change Our FutureOn Tuesday 9 March Emma will publish a detailed piece that goes behind the scenes of the industry’s technical workforce, highlighting areas of positive change in attitudes and approach, while signalling how much more there is to do. 

Emma said: ‘Encouragement to address routes into the industry, diversity, and the important challenges set by our staff, industry colleagues, unions, and campaigning bodies, must be embraced with the humility of knowing we can do better. We have much to achieve across the Royal Opera House and the industry. We directly acknowledge that the difference we make with our work onstage must be reflected in the quality of life and range of opportunities backstage.’ 

Over the course of the week, we’ll be using our social media channels to ask our audience who are the women that inspire them, as well as sharing a range of additional content reflecting the themes and objectives of International Women’s Day. Follow the Royal Opera House to get involved. 

#ChooseToChallenge #IWD2021