For Immediate Release
Contact: Patricia Kiernan Johnson;



New York, NY — OPERA America, the national service organization for opera, announces the next sessions of its ongoing Making Connections series, a professional development and networking program nurturing the next generation of performing and creative artists. Making Connections is geared toward early-career artists, including singers, composers, librettists, designers, directors and others who work in or would like to work in the field of opera.

OPERA America presents a total of 17 different sessions during the course of the full 2008-2009 Making Connections season, which runs from September through May. Each begins with an hour-long panel discussion followed by an informal reception where attendees are able to meet one-on-one with the panelists, providing a unique networking opportunity.

“One of the most exciting aspects of Making Connections is this direct exchange between the participants,” stated Marc A. Scorca, president & CEO of OPERA America. “In the increasingly competitive arts community, often, it’s not only what you know but who you know that can make a difference. Through Making Connections, OPERA America is able to foster a real dialogue between aspiring artists and decision-makers in the opera community.”

In the next session, Marketing and Media, on Tuesday, March 24, all artists will benefit from advice on promotional materials and ways to generate buzz through smart marketing and public relations choices. Speakers for this session include Sean Bickerton, formerly vice president at Columbia Artists and now managing partner at Kulture Shock Media; Kristin Cowdin, artist manager at Guy Barzilay Artists, a boutique firm representing singers of international and national acclaim at all career levels; and Mindi Rayner, founder of Mindi Rayner Public Relations, a high-level public relations service for instrumentalists, composers, singers and arts institutions. Patricia Kiernan Johnson, marketing and media manager at OPERA America, will moderate.

Panelists for Having a Career Beyond the Young Artist Program on Wednesday, March 25, will discuss important steps to take after completing a program and tips on carving out a career without attending a young artist program. Speaking at this session are Jesse Blumberg, baritone; Carol Kirkpatrick, author of the best selling book ARIA READY: The Business of Singing; and Leah Wool, mezzo-soprano. Janice L. Mayer, founder of Janice Mayer & Associates LLC, an international artist management company dedicated to advancing and serving the vocal arts, will moderate.

In addition to these sessions, OPERA America’s Making Connections program will present two more workshops in May 2009: Fundraising 101 and Designing for the 21st Century Opera.

Making Connections sessions take place from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and are held in the OPERA America offices at 330 Seventh Avenue at 29th Street. A reception follows each panel discussion. Admission is $5 per session for OPERA America members and $10 for non-members. For additional information on individual sessions and speakers, contact OPERA America at 212-796-8620 or Those interested in attending any of the sessions may register online at

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

Upcoming OPERA America Making Connections Schedule
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Marketing and Media
Speakers: Sean Bickerton, Kulture Shock Media; Kristin Cowdin, Guy Barzilay Artists; Mindi Rayner, Mindi Rayner Public Relations. Moderator: Patricia Kiernan Johnson, OPERA America
Workshop: 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Reception: 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Having a Career Beyond the Young Artist Program
Speakers: Jesse Blumberg, baritone; Carol Kirkpatrick, author; Leah Wool, mezzo-soprano. Moderator: Janice L. Mayer, arts consultant
Workshop: 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Reception: 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Fundraising 101
Workshop: 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Reception: 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Thursday, May 21, 2009
Designing for the 21st Century Opera
Workshop: 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Reception: 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Photo (L-R): Panelists Katherine Keyes, Dr. Doonam Kim, Brian Gill and Megan Young speak at OPERA America’s January 28, 2009 Making Connections panel discussion, Maintaining Your Health amid a Hectic Schedule. Photo by Katherine L. Ehle/OPERA America.



OPERA America leads and serves the entire opera community, supporting the creation, presentation and enjoyment of opera.

  • Artistic services help opera companies and creative and performing artists to improve the quality of productions and increase the creation and presentation of North American works.
  • Information, technical, and administrative services to opera companies reflect the need for strengthened leadership among staff, trustees and volunteers.
  • Education, audience development and community services are designed to enhance all forms of opera appreciation.

Founded in 1970, OPERA America’s worldwide membership network includes nearly 200 Company Members, 300 Associate and Business Members, 2,000 Individual Members and more than 16,000 subscribers to the association’s electronic news service. In 2005, OPERA America relocated from Washington, D.C. to New York as the first step in creating the first-ever National Opera Center. With a wide range of artistic and administrative services in a purpose-built facility, the Opera Center is dedicated to increasing the level of excellence, creativity and effectiveness across the field.

OPERA America’s long tradition of supporting and nurturing the creation and development of new works led to the formation of The Opera Fund, a growing endowment which allows OPERA America to make a direct impact on the ongoing creation and presentation of new opera and music-theater works. Since its inception, OPERA America has made grants of nearly $11 million to assist companies with the expenses associated with the creation and development of new works.