This week we celebrated 8 years of Opus Affair. It's pretty thrilling to look back and see how much the group has grown, reflect on all of the people who have been involved through the years, and to make plans for our future. Rather than trying to sum up eight years of Opus, I'll give a few highlights of the last year...
If I had to come up with one theme for the last year, it has been focus. Over Opus Affair’s eight years, we’ve conducted a lot of internal experiments and tried various external partnerships. I can’t say there are any I regret, but there are some I might not do again. In the interest of keeping all of our projects in the category of everyone-walks-away-feeling-awesome, we’ve made a few changes: some you might have noticed, others might be on the subtle side.
Back to the Fundamentals
The monthly Opus Affair became more complicated over the years, mainly thanks to the Punch Bowl Fund. We decided to 86 it and go back to the basics.
The Punch Bowl added an extra energy to the event, provided a solid conversation starter, brought some new people to Opus, and raised some nice money for organizations, but I always wanted it to be a feature of the main event, not to be the reason for the event itself. Lately I became more and more concerned that the PBFund was starting to overshadow the event itself (not to mention the increasing amount of time it was taking from an administration standpoint). We might revisit some elements of the PBFund in the future, but for now, we’re putting it on hold.
We also put the Big Party on hold. Similar story. We might bring it back at some point, but I want to keep focused on some new things for now. The good news is that I think those new things will have even more positive impact on the community…
[Sidenote: after a year with no Big Party or Winter Ball, you might be itching to dress up fancy for something. Might I suggest The Thing, this Friday, for your fancy dress needs.]
Meeting People (between events)
Connecting people with a shared interest in the arts has always been the raison d’être behind Opus. In the early days, it was easier for everyone to connect and get to know each other—there weren’t that many of us! With several thousand members, even the most outgoing among us (Kyle? Diana?) can’t meet everyone. To make it easier to get to know each other—and to give us more to do between monthly events—we’ve finally created a membership directory. If you don’t have a profile yet, sign up and create one. It’ll help us all get to know each other better, online and offline.
Bigger or Smaller
Almost every project should probably be bigger or smaller. That was one of my major conclusions after reflecting on everything we’ve done over the last few years. Get rid of all of the stuff in the middle. In other words, let’s have a long list of events and projects where Opus Affair is just a little bit involved and short list where we can dive in deep and really invest.
To make that distinction nice and clear, we’re putting all of our projects in two categories: Chapter, which is led by a team of volunteers and focuses on promoting member projects through tools available to our entire community (like the Calendar); and Labs, which functions like an agency, with a full-time staff working with a small number of organizations towards shared, long-term goals. We launched Labs over the summer, have had a great year working with a few organizations this season (shout-outs to Boston Philharmonic, Boston Baroque, and A Far Cry), and are mighty excited to keep ramping up for next season.
I’ve never loved that term, but it’s been attached to us from the beginning. Opus Affair events have always been open to any age...so it didn’t make much sense to keep using that label. I’ve been quietly pulling it from everything attached to Opus. Anyone should feel welcome at our events and in our community. Sure, the membership is mostly 20- and 30-somethings, but if you’re 86 years old and think our events are up your alley, you should feel welcome. Hopefully dropping that label will help make more people feel comfortable joining us. (Full disclosure: perhaps this growing conviction is because I was 29 when I started the group...you do the math.)
There we have it. That's my (somewhat) quick take on the big changes over the last year. Did I miss anything? Have any thoughts you'd like to share? I'd love to hear your comments below...