Portland, Oregon (September 29, 2022). Portland Opera has announced the second year of the Ensemble Leaders Fellowship Program—a new program to move the art form forward by providing career advancement opportunities for individuals who have been historically underrepresented in the world of opera, in both administrative and artistic roles. The initial pilot year took place during the 2021/22 season with Jasmine Johnson being named the first Ensemble Leaders Fellow. She returns for the 2022/23 season and the company is working towards expanding the scale and participants in the program by the 2023-24 season.
"I'm honored to be back for a second year as an Ensemble Leaders Fellow,” shared Jasmine Johnson. “This past year with Portland Opera was so fulfilling. The goal of the fellowship is to build up artists as leaders in this industry and that's exactly what I got out of last year.”
In her first year in the Ensemble Leaders Fellowship, Johnson worked closely with the Education and Community Engagement team to assist with Portland Opera’s award-winning Opera a la Cart community program; as well as the Portland Opera To Go educational and community tours. Jasmine’s cycles of activities also included shadowing General Director Sue Dixon and Artistic Director Priti Gandhi, as well as spending time with the External Affairs department to dive into marketing, communications, public relations, and development. She also works closely with the artistic team on a day-to-day basis.
“Sharing in Jasmine‘s insight, dedication, and growth has been inspiring. She continues to develop as both an artist and an entrepreneurial leader, and we love that those attributes are not mutually exclusive” says Sue Dixon, General Director of Portland Opera. “In developing this program, we purposely took away the structured guardrails to allow for more flexibility and customization based on the individual need of future participants. This past year was filled with listening to what was important to Jasmine in her professional growth and it allowed us greater understanding of the needs of young artists striving to break into the administrative opera field.”
In addition to administration and operations functions, Jasmine joined the company of Tosca as a chorus member, the company premiere of When The Sun Comes Out as an assistant to the director, and attended and performed at the OPERA America conference in 2022, on behalf of Portland Opera.
“Portland Opera’s investment in the Ensemble Leaders Fellowship program demonstrates a profound commitment to cultivating future leaders and increasing diversity within the opera leadership community,” shares Larry Roper, Portland Opera Board Member and Emeritus Professor of Language, Culture and Society at Oregon State University. “This program breathes life into and nurtures the aspirations of program participants, while also bringing talent to Portland Opera that enriches the performance of our organization. The ELF program is a clear example of transforming mission and values into action.”
Prior to joining Portland Opera as a Resident Artist in 2020, Johnson made her professional debut with Opera Parallèle in the world premiere of their original opera, Amazing Grace, in 2015. During the 20/21 season, Jasmine joined the Portland Opera Resident Artist program and was featured as a singer in the Portland Opera Resident Artist Series, as well as Journeys to Justice.
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