Launching Australia’s first Opera festival.

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Gertrude Opera is an independent Melbourne-based company, producing opera-as-theatre in collaboration with local and international artists and creatives.

In 2018, Gertrude Opera launched the Yarra Valley Opera Festival – Australia’s only opera festival – bringing contemporary and classic opera to the regions. Ellis Jones delivered media and marketing campaigns in the festival’s first two years to establish it as an unmissable experience in a unique and unforgettable setting.

We also developed a framework to measure the festival’s impact on communities, the economy and the wellbeing of all those involved.


To develop media and marketing campaigns, we:

  • Identified a strong value proposition to attract both opera connoisseurs and novices to the festival by leveraging the experience of ‘opera on the farm’ to shape compelling media narratives and marketing messages.
  • Created several ‘media moments’ that showcased the festival’s spectacular voices, vibrant costumes and thrilling stories.
  • Pitched and managed leads for arts, lifestyle and events media so we could reach key audiences across the country.
  • Directly engaged with festival partners to extend marketing reach via social media, web, and eDM, achieving strong associations with high-profile brands in Melbourne and the Yarra Valley.
  • Secured a $10,000 Google Ads grant, and delivered search marketing to target and convert everyone from opera fanatics to weekenders to discover opera in the Yarra Valley.

To create the impact framework, we:

  • Undertook a review of literature on best practice in arts and impact, particularly focusing on the impact of arts festivals in regional Australia.
  • Surveyed audiences during and after the festival to understand their motivations, values, views and experiences.
  • Interviewed festival partners to understand the economic value and growth opportunities driven through strategic partnerships.


The outcomes of the media and marketing campaigns include:

  • Coverage in over 15 online and print media outlets. This included stories and interviews on outlets such as ABC News, Channel 9 news, The Age and various local news outlets.
  • The festival appearing in mainstream and niche arts and entertainment press (print and online), including Time Out, Broadsheet and ABC Melbourne The Stage Show.
  • Notable critics attending and reviewing shows, such as the premiere of The Handmaid’s Tale (2018), cementing the festival’s reputation for delivering fresh, cutting edge work.
  • The festival being included in relevant event listings including Visit Victoria and Visit Yarra Valley.
  • High stakeholder engagement resulted in partnerships that achieved significant spikes in website visits and ticket sales.
  • Social media raised awareness and drove engagement, with all activity heavily converting to ticket sales.

The outcomes of the impact framework include:

  • Identified areas in which the festival delivers a positive impact: creating resilient and inclusive local economies, enhancing community cohesion, and building a thriving Victorian arts and culture sector.
  • An initial report in the festival’s second year provides evidence of the value that the festival brings to the local community, funders, audience members and society more broadly and recommendations for scaling the festival’s impact in the coming years.

worth of media coverage gained, including a televised interview on ABC news and articles in over 15 online and print media outlets