Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He produces the Café Concerts series and the podcast/show Conducting Business. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
San Diego Opera Will Not Close, Announces 2015 Season
Monday, May 19, 2014 - 03:04 PM
Two months after a financially-strapped San Diego Opera announced it would shut down at the end of its 2014 season, the company's board of directors voted on Friday to put on a 50th anniversary season next year.
The turnaround comes after the company says it has raised about $4 million—including more than $2.1 million in an Internet-based crowdfunding campaign—towards a goal of $6.5 million.
The fundraising effort follows a period of considerable upheaval and off-stage drama. The company's board voted on March 19 to close after its final production of the season, a decision that shocked many observers. At the time, general artistic director and CEO Ian Campbell told the board that decision would allow the company to wind down "with dignity and grace" rather than scrape for pennies.
But the planned shutdown prompted an outcry in the San Diego arts community, and brought national attention to the company, whose $15 million budget makes it the tenth largest company in the U.S. This was followed by a flurry of fundraising efforts, including $1 million challenge grant by its new board president, Carol Lazier.
There have also been cost-cutting measures. Musicians agreed to—or expressed a willingness to—take a 10 percent pay cut as long as similar cuts are taken throughout the company, according to KPBS Radio. Administrative staff will also take 10 percent pay cuts. The company will meet the balance of its roughly $10.5 million budget through earned income, including ticket sales.
The San Diego Opera's board has also undergone a shakeup over the last two months, and longtime CEO Campbell and his ex-wife, a fundraiser for the company, have both left.
A scaled-down 2015 season will open Jan. 24, 2015 with La boheme, followed by Don Giovanni and Nixon in China. Gala concerts will close the series of performances in April 2015. Ticket prices have also been reduced, to $35 for subscribers.