Gwenna Fairchild-Taylor
Gwenna Fairchild-Taylor, arts educator. Photo: Tom Grady for Opera Omaha

Opera Canada‘s Summer 2020 issue has been sent to press and will be available within the next 2 weeks. The issue is dedicated in large part to conversations with Canadian opera artists and company administrators, and how they are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. A special “Letters from home” section focuses on Canada’s new generation of opera artists, like these thoughts from Canadian soprano & arts educator, Gwenna Fairchild-Taylor. The best way to support ongoing, professional journalism dedicated to Canada’s opera scene is by subscribing to Opera Canada. Don’t forget, for readers under 30, we’re offering 50% off our regular subscription rate–$15 for 4 regular quarterly issues. As an added FREE bonus, our special 60th anniversary issue will be added to all new and regular subscriptions. We’re busily working on this collector’s edition, due out this October.

Gwenna Fairchild-Taylor
Gwenna Fairchild-Taylor, soprano. Photo: Debra Kaplan for Opera Omaha

Gwenna Fairchild-Taylor, soprano & arts educator

As someone who navigates the dichotomy of being a working singer as well as a teaching artist, this has been difficult. I’ve had singing gigs disappear, as well as community programs I facilitate, postponed or cancelled.

Often, these programs are a bright light in the lives of people who already face barriers when accessing the arts, without the added challenges of this global crisis. The last few years, I’ve had the privilege of working with kids in the arctic, newcomers to Canada, people experiencing homelessness, and participants in youth correctional facilities, amongst others. It’s been difficult to accept that programs like these can’t happen in the ways they have in the past.

All of this has certainly put into perspective the things I value most! We have many things to offer, and it isn’t just about making ‘art from adversity’. This is about art in general. For me, being a singer and being a teaching artist are equal and inseparable. I turn to my own singing as a means of vulnerable and creative self-expression. Teaching allows me to facilitate these experiences with others.

Right now, we need to consider ways to be more creative in our inclusion and diversity. This is an opportunity to bring us back to the core of what we do and why we do it, and to share that with people in a way that invites them to have their own creative experiences.

Let me share with you three questions that I use to guide myself in what I do.

  1. Who is this for and what do they need? Ask them.
  2. The uncomfortable question: Am I making it about me? What are my biases?
  3. How do I make space for others’ voices as an artist, leader, and educator?

At all times, but particularly now, I strongly advocate that artists consider these questions. Think of wild ideas. Reflect and listen. Now is the time to be truly creative as we reach out into our local, national and global communities.

For the full feature…as well as our stories about Vancouver Opera at 60; Opera and Broadway and an exclusive interview with mezzo-soprano Michèle Losier, consider subscribing…or give Opera Canada as a gift!

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