Blog: Rebekah Johnson

Bravo! Bravo! Rebekah Johnson, public relations coordinator for the Michigan Opera Theatre, is staging a program to open the curtains on a younger crowd's appreciation of music and libretto.

Post 2 - Detroit, the Opera: Act II

Hope Rising

The economy in Michigan is bleak.  Housing values are tanking.  Young people are leaving our state in droves.  

There are plenty of reasons to feel negatively about Detroit.  After all, our city has plenty of challenges to overcome, and the situation feels more dire than ever.  With all of the media attention that the city is getting right now, few reports have focused on the positive things going on the city and the people that are making it happen.  When I want to feel positively about Detroit, when I want to catch a glimpse of the hope rising from young people in the city, I remember one of my favorite events of the year: BravoBravo!

The event, a fundraiser for Michigan Opera Theatre and the Detroit Opera House, is a diverse group of people who love a great party, but more importantly, they care about preserving one of the city's artistic gems.  I've had the privilege of being involved in the past four BravoBravo! events, coordinating media plans with volunteers, and have caught some of the enthusiasm that Detroit young professionals have for our city.  

The Detroit Opera House is an important part of the city's past - as a historic 1922 movie theater - and its future - as a beautifully restored home of world-class opera on the state's largest stage.  BravoBravo! has increasingly become an important part of the opera house's future, helping generate its future patrons and philanthropists.

This year's theme, chosen by co-chairs Jennifer Knapp, Richard Rice, and Jerrid Mooney, was all about Haute Couture with a Detroit twist.  Each room reflected a different fashion capital with entertainment, food and décor to match.

Sure, it's a great party (with over 40 local bars and restaurants participating) but the event has grown so much each year that it has become one of MOT's largest fundraisers, raising over $1 million in its eleven years.  Sold out for the past three years, the event has exposed thousands of young professionals to the Detroit Opera House.  Although the event itself has little to do with opera, the point is to expose new people to the building in the hopes that when we contact them to come to the opera or ballet, that they'll give us a second thought.  

BravoBravo! is an important part of that first step.  It gives me hope that my generation believes in the arts as a catalyst for revitalization and change in Detroit.  Developing new audiences of opera-goers is a challenging feat.  There is no "magic bullet" to make young people interested in the art form – but we're doing what we can to start that conversation.  In the next blog post I'll explain a bit about the Access program at the Detroit Opera House and how it is working to develop new audiences for the opera and ballet in Detroit.