Writer | Mindy Tape
Photo | Opera Grand Rapids

Building Community: Opera Grand Rapids Community Tickets Program

It’s time to quash the stigma of opera being stuffy, expensive and elitist. Thanks to several programs and partnerships aimed at making opera affordable and accessible to everyone, opera is more available than ever before for West Michigan residents. 

“By making opera more accessible, we are diversifying our audience, giving our performers the gratification of a full house, and furthering our mission of fostering a tradition of opera in West Michigan,” Opera Grand Rapids (OGR) Executive Director Emilee Syrewicze says.

One such outreach effort is the Community Tickets Program which aims to broaden audience reach and introduce opera to the greater West Michigan community. The popular program gave out 480 no-cost tickets in 2022, and aims to give out more this year during select performances of “Aida” in early May 2023. This program is made possible thanks to the Wege Foundation and other generous community partner organizations.  

“Here at OGR, we are believers that to whom much is given, much will be required,” Syrewicze says. “That’s why we started the Community Tickets Program, which gives hundreds of people in our community access to the performing arts each year.”

You don’t have to be a West Michigan resident to participate in the program, however, all performances are held in the greater Grand Rapids area. Anyone interested in participating in the program can email or call the OGR  box office to request tickets to select performances. Another way for West Michigan residents to access the tickets is through one of the Community Ticket Program’s most active ticket partners, Kent District Library (KDL). 

“This program removes the first barrier of affording a ticket so that a world-class opera performance becomes a real possibility for patrons who never considered it before,”Randall Goble, Director of Engagement at KDL says. “Libraries have always tried to open doors to new worlds, and partnering with OGR is another great step in that direction.”

Any adult with a KDL card can reserve free opera tickets using KDL’s PerkPass reservation system. Every adult patron can request up to six free tickets to a Community Tickets opera performance.

“The arts have power to transform a person’s worldview and what they believe is possible,” Goble says. “Anyone can participate in various forms of art, but often we don’t know what is possible until we experience it. We hope that experiences like this will inspire KDL patrons to try something new and open themselves to the ways that creativity can enrich their lives.”

In addition to the Community Tickets program, OGR offers discounted tickets to students of any age with a valid student ID. To help foster a love for opera, OGR also hosts free hands-on learning opportunities for preschool-age through high school youth. 

Opera Grand Rapids began in 1967 as the dream of a handful of opera-loving Grand Rapidians. Today, it is the longest-running professional opera company in Michigan. Located in the heart of West Michigan, OGR productions are produced and presented locally, featuring some of the world’s most talented off- and on-stage artists and performers.

Opera Grand Rapids | operagr.org