The Next Stage Grants Jury

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13 June 2022

Next Stage Initiative


For the first edition of the Next Stage Grants, FEDORA and Opera Europa gathered a jury of experts who have the important task of evaluating and selecting the most promising projects in the areas of sustainability, inclusivity and digital transformation. Based on how innovative, collaborative, transformative, feasible and scalable these projects are, they will choose which projects will become the recipients of €250,000. Stay tuned for the announcement of the grants recipients on 17 June!


Director, Opera Europa

Nicholas Payne has worked in opera for 50 years. After a spell at the Arts Council of Great Britain, he managed four different UK opera companies over almost 30 consecutive years. All this time he enabled the development of singers, conductors and creative teams, as well as managing the business. Since 2003, he has been Director of Opera Europa, for which he has built up services and a membership of over 200 opera companies and festivals from 43 countries and has established it as the leading professional opera association in Europe. In 2017, it launched OperaVision, an online streaming service for the promotion and enjoyment of opera. He has established professional arts contacts throughout the world, served on the juries of international singing competitions, and has written and broadcast regularly on operatic and general arts subjects.


Consultant in the strategy of sustainable ecological transition for the Operas

Valentina Bressan is a set designer and technical director. In 2018 she joined the Opéra national de Paris, where in 2021 she was in charge of designing and writing the sustainable development roadmap. It is to follow up on this so enriching experience that Valentina Bressan now dedicates herself to accompanying lyric institutions in the definition of their strategy of ecological transition.


General Director, Opéra Orchestre National de Montpellier Occitanie

Director of the Opéra Orchestre national Montpellier Occitanie since 2014, Valérie Chevalier was previously Director of Artistic Administration at the Opéra national de Lorraine. Upon winning a First Prize in Singing at the Conservatoire Régional de Rouen, she graduated from the École d’Art Lyrique of the Opéra national de Paris. This diploma was followed with an MBA in Cultural Management. After several years of a singing career, Valérie Chevalier moved into cultural management, notably founding in 2000 the artistic agency Standing Ovation, through which she advises young as well as established singers, instrumental ensembles, and conductors. As the head of Opéra Orchestre national Montpellier Occitanie, she allies her in-depth knowledge of music and opera with innovative stagings. She is a Knight of the Order of the Legion of Honor since 2021.  


Director, Theatre Green Book / Renew Culture Ltd 

Paddy Dillon is one of the UK’s leading theatre architects, responsible for the regeneration of the National Theatre, in London, alongside many other projects. He was until recently interim chair of the Theatres Trust, and is chair of the International Theatre Engineering and Architecture Conference. In 2020 he initiated the Theatre Green Book, a project to help theatre-makers work together towards a sustainable future for theatre. Uniting all the UK’s leading theatre organisations, it brought theatre-makers of all kinds together with sustainability experts Buro Happold to define clear guidance and shared standards for the journey to zero carbon. The Theatre Green Book is being used by all the UK’s leading theatres and by many others across the world.


Professor for Digital Business, University of Bremen, Faculty of Business and Economics 

Prof. Dr. Benjamin Mueller is a professor for Digital Business at the University of Bremen, Germany, and an Associate Researcher at the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology, Germany. His research and teaching focus on how digitalisation transforms work, organisations, and society in a responsible and sustainable manner. He has previously worked with FEDORA on digital innovation projects in operas and is passionate about new forms and formats of culture experience.


Dean, Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics

Filipe Santos is the Alfredo da Silva Professor of Entrepreneurship and Dean of Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics since February 2019. He also holds the Chair Girl Move Academy for Social Innovation since 2016. He holds a Ph.D. in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University, with a focus on Entrepreneurship and was a Professor of Entrepreneurship at INSEAD between 2003 and 2014. Professor Santos’ research has been published in top journals, received several international awards and has been cited more than 11,600 times (Google Scholar). Professor Santos was Board member (2016-2020) and Chair (2019-2020) of the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA), is member of the investment committee of the Social Innovation Fund (FIS) and a jury member of several international social innovation awards. He is a regular key-note speaker and also mentors entrepreneurs and advises venture investors. He believes in contributing to an economic system aligned with the generation of impact and wellbeing, a system that leverages the entrepreneurial drive and search for purpose of all citizens.


European People Director, Kearney

Mirja Telzerow is European People Director at Kearney – a global Management Consultancy. Especially Diversity and Inclusion are in the center of her agenda. Before, she was advising companies around the world on transformation and change.  


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