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UCC Partners With Cork Opera House

UCC has unveiled an exciting new collaboration with Cork Opera House, the first of its kind in Ireland. The eight-year cultural partnership programme, launched on February 20th, aims to not only boost Cork’s already strong reputation as a city of learning and culture, but also to enhance the student experience in UCC.

The plan will see these two organisations work together to educate and inspire the next generation of arts managers, creative practitioners and professionals, which, it is hoped, will have a significant impact on the arts industry. A key feature of the new partnership is the creation of internships for UCC students in Cork Opera House. These internships will cover areas of organisational management, marketing, production, business development and stage management. This aspect of the partnership coincides with the national target set out recently by the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, of providing all students in higher education with the opportunity to carry out work placement as part of their studies by 2025.

At the launch of the partnership Eibhlín Gleeson, Chief Executive of Cork Opera House, said that the aim is to “develop arts industry leaders for the future.  (The) two institutions are investing in the future of arts in the region. We are developing and mentoring the people who will become the producers, arts managers, technicians, and heads of arts institutions in Cork and beyond. This partnership will give students access to a rounded learning experience including unique insight into the workings of Cork Opera House.”

There will also be collaboration by the Opera House and UCC’s School of Music and Theatre to research and develop a new masters programme in Arts and Cultural Management, which is due to open in 2019. On top of this, a jointly-funded PhD programme exploring the impact of Cork Opera House on Cork and the southern region for the last 163 years will be launched. This academic research will avail of the expertise in Opera / Opera Archival Studies that exists in the School of Music & Theatre at UCC.

Commenting on the new initiative Jools Gilson, Professor of Creative Practice and Head of the School of Music and Theatre at UCC, described the collaboration as “the missing piece of the puzzle.” Gilson explained that, while the performing arts school has “scholarship, lively debate, exploration, and a great deal of practice-based learning,” they cannot recreate what it means to run a live venue. She welcomes the fact that this new partnership will give students a practical, hands-on opportunity to work in a lively opera house.

Another aspect of student enhancement through this partnership will see a Theatre Artist in Residence undertake development work at Cork Opera House, which will inform their contribution to teaching in the UCC School of Music & Theatre, as well as to the broader University population.

Tim Healy, Chair of Cork Opera House, stated: “This collaboration is unique in its structure and innovative in its ambition. There are great synergies there and we’re looking forward to the world of possibilities this partnership will generate. Beyond the direct impact of this, the wider scope of this is that we are putting Cork at the centre of this industry as the leaders and visionaries taking innovative approaches to how we learn and create together.”

While student experience and learning are central aspects of this programme, there will also be a new utilisation of Cork City’s assets. UCC will gain access to a 900-seat auditorium in the opera house, which will enable the university to host student events and increase our offering for large international conferences. Branding for both institutions will be displayed throughout the Opera House and on the iconic tower, which will reflect the nature of this partnership, as institutions who are deeply encapsulated in the educational, cultural and economic fabric of the city.

Additionally, it reinforces and enhances Cork’s long-standing reputation for culture and education through its designation as a UNESCO City of Learning 2017 and as one of the EU’s eight ‘ideal’ cities for culture and creativity according to the EU’s Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor 2017-18.

UCC plans to invest €60K annually over the eight years – an investment which displays the university’s leading role in the development of Munster to counterbalance the Dublin region.

Patrick O’Shea, President of UCC, said of the partnership: “As key institutions in Munster, Cork Opera House and University College Cork are responsible for helping shape the arts and cultural sector in our region and beyond.  The partnership will provide a pioneering platform for the next generation of artists and practitioners to learn and gain experience. It will enable young artists and practitioners to enter the workforce with confidence, resilience and a deep understanding of the industry and its opportunities.”