Will Opera Companies Survive Economic Downturn?

by Rose Betty on November 17, 2008

Opera Companies Need Volunteers to Survive

In this two-part series, OVI Board Member Rose Betty Williams analyzes the failure of Opera Pacific and its relationship with volunteers

By Rose Betty Williams

Does the demise of the 23-year old Opera Pacific (click here for original article) predict trouble for other opera companies? Possibly, but perhaps the better question is: What can opera companies learn from Opera Pacific?

“Volunteer programs must be fun to do,” says Houston Grand Opera Association trustee and OVI board member Christa Cooper. “If they are not, people will drift away; and discounting tickets may bring in crowds, but not sustainable subscribers.”

Many opera companies count on a handful of donors to keep their companies viable, but in this current economic downturn, budgets are stretched and donors either will not or cannot write bigger and bigger checks.

Donor fatigue is real.

The Orange County Register recently interviewed Opera Pacific President and CEO Bob Jones.

“You can’t expect a handful of people to subsidize the seats for everybody else,” he said. “Since 60 percent of the real cost of every seat in the house is paid for by a donor, you need more donors.”

So, where can opera companies find more donors?

In my humble opinion, opera companies should look to their support groups.

To be continued…

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