Spotlight on: David Devan, General Director & President, Opera Philadelphia

Spotlight on: David Devan, General Director & President, Opera Philadelphia

Writer: Yolanda Rivas

2 min read AUGUST 2019 — Philadelphia is characterized by its diversity and rich history, which are reflected in its broad historical and arts and culture offerings, two of the city’s major tourism drivers. Among the organizations responsible for putting the City of Brotherly Love in the national and international spotlights is Opera Philadelphia, which has committed to embracing innovation and developing opera for the 21st century. Its innovative programming and world-class presentations have been recognized in the United States and around the world. In this week’s Spotlight On edition, the general director and president of Opera Philadelphia, David Devan, shares the organization’s latest accomplishments and future projects with Invest: Philadelphia. 

 

What were some highlights for Opera Philadelphia over the last year?

Opera Philadelphia has been exceeding sales goals with shows like last winter’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and 2018’s Carmen, and I think we are doing that because we’re attracting a younger demographic. Our Festival O19 is loaded with innovation, which is our norm. We have two world premieres: Denis & Katya, which is about two young teenagers’ interaction with social media at difficult times in their lives, and Let Me Die, which combines death sequences drawn from the canon of tragic opera, along with original narratives and music. We are also doing Opera on the Mall, which broadcasts performances from Opera Philadelphia on Independence Hall, among other events.

 

What impact has Festival O had since it was launched?

Festival O has had a local, national and international impact. Locally, it has animated the city and has enlarged artistic partnerships. We are now working with all sorts of arts organizations as part of the festival. It has also developed a new audience, mostly young. That is the biggest impact; we now have more customers than five years ago. We work with Visit Philadelphia, PHL Convention and Visitors Bureau, and other agencies that promote the city and create local pride. Because we do so much new work, what we are doing is affecting the field of opera nationally in terms of the field celebrating and participating in contemporary art activity. Internationally, we have become recognized as one of the most innovative opera companies in the United States. That is evidenced by our winning the FEDORA-GENERALI Prize for Opera and the important nominations that we receive from the International Opera Awards.

What is the role of arts, and particularly Opera Philadelphia, as an economic driver and job creator for the region? 

Arts in general play a vital role in economic development. They have a wide ripple effect and help brand the city. Tourism is one of the largest economic activities in any city. People travel because of arts and culture, so Opera Philadelphia is trying to celebrate that and become a tastemaker where people come to touch the future of that musical expression. We believe that will have a long-term impact. Over the last three years, we have seen growth in our out-of-town business. We are about to launch a national council because we have many people who live outside Philadelphia and are visiting with the purpose of attending Festival O. We are creating social situations and other arts experiences for our visitors so they can be part of an international community that is coming to experience Philadelphia.

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

Opera Philadelphia: https://www.operaphila.org/  

Record Numbers Flock to Philly, Again

by Yolanda Rivas

 

2 min read AUGUST 2019 — Greater Philadelphia experienced its ninth straight year of record tourism in 2018. Public and private organizations in the sector are making multiple efforts to elevate tourism to the city and maintain its record-setting pace. 

Enhancements to the city’s historical, cultural and dining options, such as the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the stadiums in South Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Museum of Art renovations and a number of new hotels on the horizon are some of the examples of improvements to the city’s offerings. 

“We’re working on a partnership to significantly grow our brand globally while also making a further commitment in Philadelphia with a new project that will dramatically enhance the architectural canvas for residential real estate,” Larry Korman, president of luxury extended-stay brand AKA Hotel Residences, told Invest:. 

Philadelphia’s weekend occupancy rate remains in the low- to mid-90%, also record highs, as the city of brotherly love attracts both business and leisure travelers. Local hotels, such as the Cambria Hotel Philadelphia Downtown, are committed to highlighting and complementing the communities where they operate through area-inspired decor and modern design.  

“We have locally commissioned art in our hotel, and since we sit on the Avenue of the Arts, our decor is themed with a nod to arts and music. We sourced most of the art and decor from local artisans, vendors and companies to ensure that we are supporting the community in every way possible,” Jerry Rice, General Manager at Cambria Hotel Philadelphia Downtown, said in an interview with Invest:.

To meet the demands of those who want a unique and intimate experience, some local brands are making the transition to boutique hotels. That is the case of former Courtyard by Marriott, which has been reborn as The Notary Hotel. According to the hotel’s general manager, Jim McSwigan, some of the elements of renovation include reimagined rooms, public workspaces for guests, a new shower experience in all rooms and a modern fitness center. 

“We have maintained an element of history with 1920s-inspired decor and furnishings, while introducing a modern feel. We offer the latest and greatest when it comes to providing guests with a great space, not only for business meetings, but for social events, weddings and any type of celebration,” McSwigan said.  

Another main driver for visitors and a key economic developer is the arts sector, and Philadelphia’s world-class music institutions are putting the city in the global spotlight. Such is the case of Opera Philadelphia and its Festival O, for example, which has had a  local, national and international impact. David Devan, general director and president of Opera Philadelphia, pointed out in an interview with Invest: the importance of the festival in creating local, enlarged artistic partnerships and developing a new, mostly young audience. “That is the biggest impact; we now have more customers than five years ago. We work with Visit Philadelphia, PHL Convention and Visitors Bureau, and other agencies that promote the city and create local pride,” he said.

“Because we do so much new work, what we are doing is affecting the field of opera nationally in terms of the field celebrating and participating in contemporary art activity. Internationally, we have become recognized as one of the most innovative opera companies in the United States,” Devan stated.

This year, Philly’s official tourism marketing agency VISIT PHILADELPHIA is focusing on opportunities in the multicultural market, specifically Latinx, LGBTQ and African American audiences. 

 

To learn more about our interviewees, visit:

AKA Hotel Residences: https://www.stayaka.com/ 

Opera Philadelphia: https://www.operaphila.org/ 

Cambria Hotel Philadelphia Downtown: https://www.choicehotels.com/pennsylvania/philadelphia

The Notary Hotel: https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/phlak-the-notary-hotel-autograph 

VISIT PHILADELPHIA: https://www.visitphilly.com/