Our work

As a charity, we’re addressing the lack of representation of ethnic minorities – from performers to communities with access to performances – in the field of opera, and classical arts in general.

Get in touch

Phone : +44 7855 800 212

eMail : [email protected]

Our mission

Black, white, asian, minorities of all ethnicities – opera is a space and place for everyone. To sing, to dance, to be inspired. But, as it stands, opera audiences and stages don’t fully represent BAME communities. We want to change that.
Black British Classical Foundation exists for the purpose of nurturing an interest and participation in the classical arts, in particular, Opera, amongst communities of colour in the UK and beyond.
In 2015, King’s College London found that of 17 British orchestras, only 1.7 percent of their members came from a BAME background. Worse still, modern classical audiences seem to be reflecting that. BAME communities may be overlooked as performers or perhaps made to feel unwelcome by predominantly white spaces… whether unconsciously or not. Whatever the reasons, the classical arts are missing out on new voices and broader audiences.
The good news is that there is time to change that. And that time is now. At the Black British Classical Foundation, our mission is three-fold:
1
Address the lack of diversity in opera.
2
Give BAME performers a platform to succeed in the industry.
3
Bring new audiences to the world of classical music.

Initiatives

Through our events, we represent BAME performers and inspire communities of colour to enjoy opera and the classical arts. But, our flagship project is the Voice of Black Opera competition.
BBCF
BBCF
Supported by the Royal Opera House and Wigmore Hall, VOBO is a globally-recognised, biannual competition that develops BAME artists, creates opportunities and inspires participation from audiences and performers. The premise is simple: twenty singers from the commonwealth are brought to the UK, after a series of heats they are reduced to six. These finalists perform a twenty-minute programme with a full orchestra.
It’s a competition with big reward – the previous winner was Elizabeth Llewellyn from Jamaica, who went on to land a lead role, Mimi, in La Boheme with the English National Opera – but the VOBO’s isn’t about winning.
The real point for competitors, and of the competition itself, is about being seen and heard. Participants take their experiences, and newly-honed abilities home, where they can pass inspiration on to others. Not only is the winner catapulted into the spotlight, the event inspires and encourages many more.

Patrons

Vincent Osborne
Vincent Osbourne
BBCF Performer and VOBOS 2018 winner
Trained at Birmingham Theatre School as an Actor and Teacher of Speech and Drama, Vincent has worked extensively in repertory companies including The National Theatre, and the West End. Vincent was the creator of the first Black Soap Opera - "Brothers and Sisters" on BBC2, before going on to become a successful entrepreneur, sponsoring the Brixton Open an Arts Competition from its conception. Now a campaigner, The Black British Classical Foundation is a continuation and expansion of the work Vincent began in those early days, and is now set to culminate in the Voice Of Black Opera.
Lord Boateng
Lord Boateng
BBCF Performer and VOBOS 2018 winner
Former MP Paul Boateng became the UK's first mixed-race Cabinet Minister in May 2002, when he was appointed as Chief Secretary to the Treasury by Tony Blair. Following his departure from the House of Commons, he served as the British High Commissioner to South Africa and was introduced as a member of the House of Lords in 2010.
Grace Melzia-Bumbry
Grace-Melzia Bumbry
BBCF Performer and VOBOS 2018 winner
As one of opera's most controversial artists, Grace-Melzia Bumbry continues to make headlines. With a 50-plus year career she is phenomenally preserved. Critics and audiences around the world continue to cheer this celebrated artist, who garners remarkable coverage and incredible ovations with reviews praising her as a national treasure, spectacular, spiritual and magnificent.

Outcomes

However our major project is a biannual competition 'Voice OF Black Opera' for BAME singers from the British Commonwealth.
This competition, supported by the Royal Opera House, The Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment (The Band plays by permission of the Air Force Board of the Defence Council.) and ST CLEMENT DANES, has the potential to change the lives of the winners.
132
BAME performers took part in BBCF concerts
16
performers at major roles at opera houses
1k
of averge views of our online concert content

BBCF are in agreement with the Nolan Principles and have Adopted the Charity Commission Code of Practice.