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Patrons: Lucy Crowe, Fiona Maddocks, Katie Mitchell OBE, Christine Rice and Sarah Tynan


The under-representation of women in senior leadership roles - both creatively and administratively - is significant.


Our purpose is to explore the reasons for this imbalance and to find ways to champion and generate more opportunities for women in these roles.

...and parents

We aim to dismantle outdated attitudes towards the compatibility of parenthood and a career by:

  • Celebrating the great many role model opera parents managing to do both

  • Working with opera companies to find ways of updating their working practices to make a career in opera more accessible for people with families and dependants (men and women)


SWAP’ra is a group of artists who have come together to build a supportive community and to effect positive change for women and parents in opera.

SWAP’ra envisages a future in which it is no longer necessary to use the word “woman” as an epithet. We want to see gender-balanced programming and decision-making as standard, and to normalise the expectation that working conditions will actively accommodate parents of all genders. 

We conceive of an industry:

  • that no longer perpetuates the notion that women are the primary caregivers by default.

  • that demonstrates a widespread culture of respect and support for women and parents.

  • where women are evenly represented in all job roles.

  • in which artists are no longer concerned about the viability of their careers when they move between life stages such as pregnancy, adoption, IVF, menopause, or ageing.

Ultimately, we want to see an inclusive workforce that renders SWAP’ra obsolete.

(data for graphic was collated by SWAP'ra. Please click here for more detailed info


Our mission is to foster an environment in which:

  • women and parents are enabled to thrive professionally

  •  balancing a career and family commitments is actively supported by companies

  • a woman Chief Executive, Music Director, Artistic Director, Conductor, Composer or Librettist is no longer noteworthy

We amplify marginalised voices by:

  • Celebrating and publicising women’s professional achievements

  • Advocating for family-friendly working practices 

  • Challenging the enduring negative assumptions about the compatibility of parenthood and a career

  • Providing a friendly and non-judgmental community that offers peer-support and a forum in which to explore practical issues

SWAP’ra works with individuals and organisations to address the systemic underrepresentation of women in senior decision-making and creative roles. We encourage industry leaders to recognise and address the challenges faced by a large proportion of the workforce. We enable women and parents to feel empowered and hopeful that they are needed and, most importantly, wanted in the industry. 


1. Inclusivity and accessibility

Diversity of thought and experience is key to enriching and sustaining the opera industry. An inclusive industry ensures a higher rate of talent retention, increases access for future generations from a wide variety of backgrounds, and diversifies the audiences that engage with the artform. It is essential that SWAP’ra’s feminism is intersectional, both in how it engages with its external environment and how the charity operates internally. 


2. Positive reinforcement

We believe that change is not only possible but inevitable, and positive reinforcement is essential to increasing the rate of change. By celebrating good practice and offering potential solutions to challenges, SWAP’ra attracts allies and avoids alienating sceptics with finger-pointing or shaming. 

3. Empowerment

At the heart of the organisation is a belief in empowering artists to speak up about the support that they need, whether through SWAP’ra or directly with the companies they are working for. 

4. Ambition

SWAP’ra has the potential to play a major role in facilitating the progress of gender equality in opera. No idea is too big; we encourage imagination about what is possible, determination to achieve our goals, and resilience in the face of setbacks or slow progress. 

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