By editorial team
For Christine Matovich, the pandemic has not meant the end of her business. It has in fact been the catalyst for what is a long-awaited and much-needed resource for educators.
In 2020, as the world started going into lockdown, the Opera singer and educator-turned-entrepreneur saw an opportunity for artists to take their craft online, and a chance to help get more art into the classroom.
CommonTime is run by artists for artists. Delivering access to art for everyone, the online platform connects students and educators with teaching artists, arts organisations and educational institutions.
Since its launch, it has already hosted over 150 sessions, has close to 1,500 users a month and has live streamed over fifteen events – one of which was a series of open-air Operas in Taranto, Italy. Performances included Aida, Carmen, and Tang'Opera and connectivity was key to their success. We caught up with the team, to find out more.
For me, it’s about creativity. Everyone is an artist. On my team, I have an art director, photographer and graphic designer. I, myself, am an Opera singer by profession. These are different art forms. Art teaches us to problem solve, evolve and be confident. Something that is vital for us all when it comes to personal growth.
What artists did in the pandemic was unprecedented – they pivoted. They always have this incredible ability to collaborate and adapt.
When it came to CommonTime, I saw that only well-funded schools can afford to bring in artists to educate their students. I wanted to change that and make those opportunities available for everybody. As long as you have internet connection, you can access our platform and have lessons with our vetted artists – even via a smartphone.
The idea actually came via one of our artists, Vienna Boys Choir Conductor and pianist, Jimmy Chiang. He was hired to conduct a summer Opera festival and put us in touch with the festival founders. We began by helping promote their masterclasses and online youth competition, and then worked on live streaming the opera.
We had hundreds of people tune in across the world, from the U.S. to China, including Jimmy’s own father who was thrilled to be able to watch from Hong Kong, and over 100,000 hits on social media.
It was our first time doing something like that and there is always the fear that a performance could be interrupted by poor connectivity. And this was a likely factor, given that the performances were to take place outside in a park.
That’s when we came to Vodafone. We’d heard good things about the Gigacube and thought it would be the perfect way to ensure the Opera reached people around the world as if they were inside the park, watching it live.
We all know how challenging it is to stay engaged when interacting virtually. For the performances to transport viewers into the story, we needed a robust connection that would deliver a clear and uninterrupted show live to anywhere in the world. The Vodafone Gigacube provided that.
We streamed the show without a hitch, something that wouldn’t have been possible without Vodafone’s help.
Our partnerships help us expand our outreach and education and are a huge growth area for us. Partnering with like-minded businesses, such as the Global Schools Forum (GSF) that supports 30,000 schools providing education to over 5 million children in Asia, Africa and South America from low-income families, we are able to give back. For example, as part of a giving campaign with the forum, when you purchase any artist session on CommonTime, we will gift a session with that artist to a GSF partner school.
We are also looking to run more events like the Operas in Taranto and will be live streaming five different performances through the winter months as part of the Taranto Winter Opera Festival. As well as live streaming a Christmas concert by the Portland Youth Philharmonic.
Education is at our core. As we continue to grow the platform, we are using the product to build the product. All of our team meetings take place on CommonTime. We are constantly evolving based on user feedback and hope to create a smartphone app in the near future. Our goal is to make the platform even more accessible and make the arts and arts education available to everyone, no matter where they are.
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