Opera Australia + MAZDA Australia | Partnership in Focus

In 2015 we profiled the partnership between Opera Australia and Mazda Australia which had been flourishing for 12 years.

Opera Australia + MAZDA Australia | Partnership in Focus

In 2018, the partnership is stronger than ever and was recently extended until 2021, highlighting the importance of good communication and an alignment of values and goals in successful relationships between the arts and business. We chatted to representatives from Opera Australia and Mazda to see how their relationship has evolved and what advice they have to build and maintain strong, ongoing arts partnerships.

Rory Jeffes, CEO, Opera Australia

Congratulations on the renewal of your partnership with Mazda! What does this mean for Opera Australia?

Corporate partnerships are vital for the sustainability of arts organisations in Australia.

Opera Australia (OA) is so incredibly fortunate to have the support of many outstanding companies such as Mazda.

The ongoing support from Mazda means Opera Australia can continue its vital work in bringing opera and the best of the arts in Australia to communities in Melbourne and Sydney via our free outdoor performances.

Tell us about some of the recent projects that OA and Mazda have collaborated on.

These free outdoor performances are key events on the cultural calendars of Sydney and Melbourne.

We are so incredibly proud that with Mazda’s help we can offer these performances to the people of Sydney and Melbourne each year and the events keep going from strength to strength.

In fact, for this year’s Mazda Opera in the Domain, we had 30,000 people in the crowd!

Mazda also supports our ground-breaking Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour.

An incredible undertaking which sees us perform to some 60,000 people over a four week period, with a stage set up on the Harbour itself and the Sydney Opera House as the backdrop.

This OA activity is now considered the cultural event of the year in Australia.

2018 Opera in the Domain, Ben Symons

Why does your relationship with Mazda work? What are the main elements that make it a success?

For a corporate partnership to work there needs to be an understanding of each companies’ objectives and the reason for getting into the relationship in the first place.

For OA and Mazda, there is a clear understanding and an alignment with excellence in all that we do.

Whether you are creating the newest vehicle on the market or creating a ground-breaking new opera production, we undertake our own business activities with excellence at our core.

Once this excellence is established, we then wish to share it with as many people as possible and this is what Mazda’s support enables OA to do.

15 years is a long time, any advice for newly formed partnerships between the arts and corporate organisations?

It is vital for any new partnership between an arts company and a corporate organisation to have clearly outlined objectives for the partnership with a definitive activation calendar to back up the objectives.

More and more we are seeing the need to demonstrate impact and reach of our partnerships so these metrics should also be built into the objectives.

What are three key things arts organisations should consider before seeking corporate partnerships?

  1. Is the fit right? There is no point going into a partnership if there is simply no alignment between the brands and objectives of the organisations
  2. Is there going to be a mutual benefit for both organisations? Corporate partnerships are not corporate philanthropy, it is not a one-way street. There must be real, tangible benefits for both organisations in the coming together as a partnership.
  3. How can we bring something new to the arts partnership space? No longer are corporate partnerships simply about tickets to a performance. While this is still important for many partners,  we at OA are always wanting to push the boundaries as to what an arts partnership can be. It’s about creativity and corporate organisations helping arts companies achieve things that, without their support, we simply could not achieve.

Alastair Doak, Director Marketing, Mazda Australia.

Congratulations on the renewal of your partnership with Opera Australia! What does this mean for Mazda?

Mazda has a long history of supporting the arts in Australia, and our 15-year partnership with Opera Australia is a testament to this.

It allows us a hand in offering inspiring performances and memorable experiences to audiences across the country, and a platform for Mazda to more deeply connect with like-minded customers and potential customers.

Mazda’s support of the arts also extends to a 25-year partnership with Art Exhibitions Australia, which has seen us support some of the biggest and most renowned exhibitions to visit the country, including the recent Colours of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée D’Orsay exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Opera in the Domain, Ben Symons

How has your partnership with OA changed or evolved over 15 years?

Over the last 15 years, Mazda Australia has worked closely with Opera Australia to support the organisation’s objectives in widening the reach of the arts to more Australian audiences.

Becoming naming rights sponsor of Opera in the Domain was a major step in this direction, bolstered by the reintroduction of Opera in the Bowl to Victorian audiences in 2012.

Event attendance is extremely encouraging, with thousands turning out to the events and audience numbers growing year-on-year.

These events have also helped us to raise further awareness for the Mazda brand, in turn, allowing Mazda to reach our own objectives.

What are the benefits to Mazda of a partnership with OA – how do you work together to measure the value of your partnership?

Through sponsorship of Opera Australia, we’re able to reach and connect with like-minded audiences, in a way that is genuine and tangible.

The Mazda Opera in the Bowl and Mazda Opera in the Domain events have become much-anticipated mainstays in the Melbourne and Sydney summer events calendars, attracting thousands of people, young and old.

In the context of the event, we’re able to communicate directly with guests in a relevant way, with merchandise giveaways, competitions and exclusive offerings for Mazda VIPs on the ground.

Why is it important for businesses to support the arts?

For Mazda, art is central to our product and our brand DNA. We don’t look on our cars as a mere mass of metal, but as a piece of art, and we are attuned to the emotion that art can inspire.

By aligning with Opera Australia, we are able to help bring art and the value of its effect on more people.

It’s a way of giving back to the communities in which we operate in a meaningful way, that is still unique to Mazda.

What are some of the visions you and OA share for the future and how do you see these being explored over the next three years?

The spirit of the partnership with Opera Australia remains the same; we will continue to support Opera Australia to offer unique and inspiring experiences to audiences around the country.