Motivation of Traction project


Inequality is the defining issue of our time. It constrains the lives and chances of millions of European citizens and makes it harder to address existential threats. Europe is a cultural space, or it is nothing. Unless its citizens share, and feel common ownership of, the culture that expresses what are lightly called “European Values” there is a real threat to the most successful peace-building project we have known.



is the unavoidable heart of this challenge. A cornerstone of European cultural heritage, opera has always spoken to both elites and people, expressed both authority and revolution. Its colour, passion, beauty and drama have inspired generations. But in recent decades, this art has too often lost sight of its popular roots and radical edge. European Opera may be the total art that includes every aspect of practice, the theatre of emotion that aspires to transcendent and universal artistic experience. Opera is in danger of becoming a symbol of European inequality but – crucially – it also has the capacity to rewrite that story, to include those left behind in wider prosperity, to renew itself and so find the energy, the resonance and the heart to be once again the root of living culture.

*Image property of Liceu Opera de Barcelona


Traction ran for three years between January 2020 and December 2022 and aimed to contribute to opera’s renewal as a territory of cultural and social inclusion. It did so by moving from the limited policy of cultural democratisation—essentially making opera more attractive to those who don’t attend—towards the more demanding idea of cultural democracy, which involves finding new ways for people at risk of social exclusion to co-create opera performances with professional artists, telling stories that are important to them, and reconnecting the form with its socially progressive potential. Traction researched how this could be done through three community opera trials that offer a range of scale, social context, approaches and artistic values, within an overarching principle of artistic co-creation.


Main objectives

The aim of this project is to promote, through their empowerment, a transformation of communities at risk of exclusion. To achieve that goal, we will establish an effective collaborative and participatory production workflow for the co-creation and co-design of art representations, using a community-centric methodology to conduct a dialogue, and exploring novel audio-visual formats. A toolset will be designed and developed to foster democratisation of opera, using technology as a means to reach new audiences and to connect artists with audiences.

pictogram of a brain symbolizing new ideas

To use new ideas of co-creation and participatory art to involve citizens in the creative process of opera.

pictogram of a raised fist symbolizing empowerment

To empower people and communities in three trials: inner-city Barcelona, a youth prison in Leiria and rural communities in Ireland

pictogram of a person with virtual reality glasses

To embrace new technologies in order to establish an effective participatory production workflow and to explore novel audio-visual art representation formats.

pictogram symbolizing the relationship between opera and technology

To provoke an impact on the relationship between opera and digital technology.