Operatunity is a rare company in New Zealand and probably in the world. It is a very Kiwi company, formed in 2001 and in that time has grown to be New Zealand’s leading provider of daytime concert entertainment and national and international music travel.
Its ethos is simply “We give happiness to seniors through music!”
It is a very busy business employing 17 full time staff and 35 contracted artists per year. But more than its great business model, Operatunity is a company with a lot of heart. It touches people and makes a huge difference to people’s lives.
It presents over 200 concerts annually to seniors throughout New Zealand in 24 different regions from Whangarei to Invercargill. These concerts are filled with joy and are delivered with Operatunity’s unique brand of good music and humour. They are presented in community churches, regional halls and theatres, making them accessible to seniors. They think about things like parking, accessibility for the disabled, the frail and the sick. For an affordable ticket price they even feed their audience lunch so it becomes a social as well as a musical event for their audiences.
Unlike any other arts company, the artists greet you at the door. They get to know you and make you feel welcomed and part of the extended family. Their concerts are of a high standard. They only employ professional New Zealand artists who are talented as well as ‘giving’ performers who genuinely want seniors to have a great time. None of their amazing artists consider themselves in any way ‘divas.’ They are just normal people who love to sing and are lucky enough to earn their living through their passion.
Operatunity is not an opera company. Operatunity is a play on the words opera and tunes and presents all sorts of different concerts, each with its own special theme: everything from music theatre, 50s and 60s popular songs, Gatsby art deco, Irish, iconic kiwi shows, popular opera, crooners, Glenn miller, big band. Audiences regularly say that Operatunity concerts are ‘the highlight of their lives”.
On their travel side Operatunity has opened the world to seniors who may be less confident to travel on their own as they get older, especially to widows and widowers who are quoted as saying that Operatunity has changed their lives. “I never thought I would feel happy again” is one quote from Bill who went to Norfolk Island with Operatunity after the death of his wife. They take nearly a thousand seniors away on bespoke music festival trips all over the world each year, where they provide music and fun, as well as take seniors to incredible events and locations.
Like all companies with a lot of heart, Operatunity has started many community initiatives over the years, supporting the arts communities, senior citizens, and NZ families.
These range from fundraising projects for earthquake relief for Christchurch and Kaikoura, giving free concerts for seniors there, fundraising for a sustained water supply for a Fiji High School which had no running water, raising over $35,000 and fundraising events for many charities including Alzheimer’s and the Hearing House. They also have partnered, for many years, with Sistema, a South Auckland charity geared to provide classical tuition to lower decile school students. Together they have raised nearly $20,000 and donated around a hundred violins and other instruments to allow children to learn and be part of an incredible socially empowering programme.
With the advent of COVID and the stressors related to arts and travel organisations, Operatunity has had a perfect storm of stressful contributing factors. But in its ongoing effort to touch the lives of New Zealand seniors it has presented 19 free online concerts called the Happiness Half Hours with artists donating their time to bring comfort, relief and fun to seniors in these stressful times. These concerts have been viewed over 150,000 times and have been shared with seniors in other countries around the world. Operatunity staff and singers also rang over 5000 people during lockdown to check if they were ok.
Operatunity has recently initiated SOFA which stands for Seniors Offering Families Assistance. This initiative has a two fold benefit: to change the narrative around frail seniors to show seniors to be contributing and strong members of society and to assist families in need at present. Together with Operatunity’s Senior Audiences all around New Zealand they have collected nonperishable food items at concerts that are then donated to local food banks to families in need. They have now donated nearly $15,000 of cash and more than $30,000 dollars of food to local families in need.
In the 2020 New Year’s Honours List, Operatunity’s founder Susan Cameron was awarded an MNZM for her services to music and seniors.
In 2021 Operatunity will celebrate its 20th anniversary. It touches the lives of over 65,000 seniors each year in New Zealand and continues to bring happiness through music.