Pasay City, November 10, 2015: Travellers International Hotel Group, Inc. (TIHGI), owner and operator of Resorts World Manila, today announced the formation of Original Pilipino Performing Arts (OPPA) Foundation aimed to organize efforts in institutionalizing the advancement of Philippine performing arts. OPPA starts with an initial funding of up to P100 million.
“There is a vibrant tradition of performing arts in the country and a considerable number of groups devoted to the craft,”, said Kingson Sian, Chairman, OPPA Foundation. “Still, there is a lot more work to be done in order to gain wider public interest and truly establish the Philippines as a global center of live entertainment.”
This challenge, as well as the wealth of homegrown talent and the enormous potential for growth of this art form in the Philippines, inspired Dr. Andrew Tan (Founding Chairman) to create and spearhead the establishment of OPPA.
“OPPA’s vision is to make the Philippines globally acclaimed for its excellence in the performing arts. We aim to achieve this through initiatives built around three major pillars: supporting local artists through grants and scholarships, nurturing the industry through more opportunities for development, and elevating its standards and capabilities by providing global expertise and resources,”, Sian added.
Resting on a solid foundation of values comprised of excellence, innovation, and integrity, OPPA aims to lend a hand to budding artists by way of scholarship grants in their respective fields- be it production design, dance, voice, scriptwriting, acting, among others.
Initial partner schools include: University of the Philippines; St. Scholastica College; College of Saint Benilde, and Mint College.
Together with OPPA’s Founding Chairman, Dr. Andrew Tan, the foundation’s board of trustees are Kingson U. Sian (Chairman), Isidro G. Garcia (Vice Chairman), Maria Carmen L. Yulo (President), Marilou A. Almaden (Treasurer), Michael Stuart Williams, Marcos Genciano A. Manalang, and Rufino H. Abad.
With the renewed interest in local performing arts, OPPA is ready to embrace its role in promoting the performing arts through close collaboration with the academe and industry.
What direction does OPPA want to take in order to significantly help the Filipino stage talents and those who want to work in the field of the performing arts?
Sian: “We tried to approach it in a way that is a little bit more holistic. Of course we’re linking up with various universities and schools that have programs related to the performing arts and help fund the needs of schooling some of the deserving students who can’t afford it. But at the same time since we run productions (we’ve already had about 6 productions since we started, every year we do one big one), we can actually use some of these and do an on-the-job training program for them so they will have live experience. So it’s not just offering scholarships but it’s also giving them exposure to performing arts. And of course after they graduate, and we produce more shows, they can actually participate and help us not only as an actor or as a performer but also as stage designer or to be part of the stage design team, lighting director or to be part of the lighting design team, sound engineers… So it’s not just for the front of the house or on stage but also backstage as well.
Where do you find the students that will qualify for OPPA?
Yulo: Well basically we will work with the schools. Since they have these programs, they may have these students that they will introduce to us. They have to meet certain criteria. And also on our end, as performers, we know of a lot of young people who basically can’t afford it who have the talent, and we’d want to be able to support that. So it will be a two-way thing.
What are the avenues for support?
Yulo: The support will be financial. We will pay for their course, and if I’m not mistaken, it’s not less than 4 years for theater arts and whatever they decide to venture into. In that sense, we will also offer them job opportunities as Mr. Sian said to later work in our productions or come into training with people who head it. Like somebody who graduates from light design can do an OJT with our established light designer and gain experience. So in other words, we don’t just provide the education but we will also provide them with job opportunities after so they would have somewhere to go. And that of course entails the rest of the industry. They will be free to work there as well.
Sian: We will also offer short courses. We will invite renowned performing artists, composers to come and do Master Class to also help people who are already in the profession, already working in this field, to hone their skills, to get exposed to top-notch talent that they normally don’t get exposed to.
We just built a brand new venue. It’s called the Ceremonial Hall. It’s a 400-seater proscenium theater. We can also hold courses there as well.
What we eventually want is hopefully people who are passionate about the performing arts can live off this industry rather than it being just a hobby. In West End and Broadway, it’s a profession. We want it to be a profession that is respected. They bring a lot of pride to the country.
Moving forward, does it go beyond the academe?
Sian: We want to take it step by step. We’re working with the schools because they already have a system and they already have their formal programs so it’s a logical first step for us. But in the future, it doesn’t prevent us from working with organizations that are training in the performing arts. But we want to take it step by step. There are a lot of areas that need help and we chose to start from here.
What are the criteria to join OPPA?
Yulo: What’s going to happen now is we’re going to sit down with the schools now that they’re on-board, and get recommendations because each school will be different requirement-wise. In other words, UP can come to us, and say, “We have this one student. Very Good. Hindi na kaya ang second year.”, or “We have this incoming student…” We have our criteria. We have the mechanics. Of course, a certain grade point average, of a certain economic bracket. But the school also has their own requirements so each one will be different, depending on the school.
The reason we tapped the schools is because UP has a theater arts program, St. Scholastica has a very good music program, Mint also has a theater arts program, Benilde is technical theater. You have to be of a certain economic background. If you can afford it, you will not qualify. If you can’t afford it and you’re deserving, those are the ones we’re going to tap.