Home » Sacramento Opera unveils a new plan for next season
Community Voice

Sacramento Opera unveils a new plan for next season

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Representatives of the Sacramento Opera unveiled their plan for saving the company in a presentation Thursday night for supporters of the only professional opera in the Sacramento region.

Rod Gideons, Sacramento Opera general director, and Michael Nelson, president of the board of directors, shared the stage at Antiquité Maison Privée in Midtown. During the two-hour presentation, they outlined “what’s happened, what’s changed and what’s next” for the Sacramento Opera.

“We have no cash reserves, no endowment, and we’ve been entirely dependent on ticket sales up to this point,” Gideons told the audience of more than 60 opera subscribers and supporters.

If something doesn’t happen – and happen soon – the opera may have to close its doors for good.

“There is no silver bullet or magic pill,” Gideons said. “The only way out of this morass is what we are outlining tonight.”

The planned new approach, developed after nearly six months of deliberations by board members, includes restructuring the opera’s budget to rely less on ticket sales and more on individual donations, grants and corporate contributions.

“For the past few years, 65 percent of our budget was coming from ticket sales,” Gideons said. “By and large, people just closed the purse this year.”

Previously, the opera company received the remaining 35 percent of its income from donations, grants and other sources of community generosity. Recent changes in the local economy and decreased ticket sales have forced company directors to adjust their budgeting plan to better reflect the realities they face as operagoers tighten their belts.

The opera has set a new budget expectation for the 2011-2012 season of only 49 percent of total income from ticket sales, placing greater pressure on the company to seek the remaining 51 percent of the budget total from outside sources to keep operations going next season and beyond.

To meet that expectation, the company set a goal of $175,000 in individual donations during the upcoming season. However, since a large part of production and expenses are upfront costs, the company needs to reach 70 percent of that goal ($122,000) by the end of May.

“We need (supporters’) help,” Nelson said. “We need to know that we have a solid, viable financial foundation to move forward.”

In addition to the contributions goal and budget restructure, a strategic alliance with the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra is a significant part of the organization’s new proposal.

Far from being a total merger, Gideon said the two companies would only combine administrative and support services behind the scenes in order to scale back on expenses while still operating as independent entities.

“We will keep our separate identities,” Gideons said. “We’re just getting into the same sandbox to share what we have.”

As part of the new alliance with the Sacramento Philharmonic, the two organizations would collaborate on new productions for the upcoming opera season and coordinate marketing and outreach efforts to build stronger subscriber bases.

Nelson and Gideons said the Sacramento Opera board is optimistic that the new approach will be successful, but it depends on a number of factors outside their control.

“They can come up with the best plan in the world,” said former Sacramento Mayor Anne Rudin after the presentation. “But if people won’t do anything with it, it won’t work.”

Rudin said she’s been a longtime opera fan and Sacramento Opera supporter and hopes more people will get involved in keeping the company alive.

“If (community members) just had an introduction to (opera), they’d get hooked on it,” Rudin said.

Gideons encouraged attendees to not only pledge their support for the upcoming season, but to spread the word within their individual spheres of influence in order to “open doors” to other as-yet-untapped sources of donations to the Sacramento Opera.

“Corporate money is out there,” Nelson said. “We just need (supporters) to open those doors for us.”

The Sacramento Opera will hold another informational presentation on its planned operational changes from 2 – 4 p.m. on Saturday. The meeting is open to the public and will be held at Antiquité Maison Privée, 2114 P Street in Midtown.

For more information, contact the Sacramento Opera administrative office at 737-1000.

Support Local


Subscribe to Our
Weekly Newsletter

Stay connected to what's happening
in the city
We respect your privacy

Subscribe to Sacramento

Share via
Copy link