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Opera Carolina to Implement Cost-Saving and Strategic Fundraising Measures for 2009/10 Season

July 29, 2009

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    July 29, 2009
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    Opera Carolina News

Opera Carolina to Implement Cost-Saving and Strategic Fundraising Measures for 2009/10 Season

The board of directors of Opera Carolina, the leading professional opera company in the region, has approved a package of cost-saving and fundraising measures in response to the recently announced 33 percent reduction in support from the Arts & Science Council and current economic conditions.

Board Chair Kay Allison Norris said the recession, coupled with the $245,000 reduction in ASC support, has forced Opera Carolina to postpone its October 2009 season-opening production of Verdi’s Otello and reduce the number of performances to two, now scheduled for Thursday, May 6 and Saturday, May 8, 2010. The company will also cancel the May 2010 production of the American Premiere, Transit of Venus.

“With only three months before the season opens, the board has responded decisively with a comprehensive financial action plan,” stated General Director James Meena. “We are confident that this plan will help us address the reduction in support, and continue to fulfill our company mission and goals.”
Meena explained that the plan is laser-focused on strategies to reduce costs, secure funding to replace up to one-third of the income reductions, and bolster outreach and marketing efforts to reposition, rebuild and ultimately stabilize the company’s programming and financial position.

“The Board carefully considered cancelling both Otello and Transit of Venus but by exploring every alternative, we have been able to secure world-renowned Tenor Carl Tanner to perform the lead in the spring production of Otello,” said Meena. “While the postponement of the fall opening performance was a difficult decision, we are compelled to meet our economic challenges by bringing inventive thinking to the stage, ultimately preserving Opera Carolina’s long term future. That said, we are confident that our audiences will be enthralled by Tanner’s spectacular talent.”

“Opera Carolina is recognized for our customer service, and our stewardship of the resources entrusted to us. Our first commitment is to our season ticket holders, who will be given options for the disposition of their tickets, including exchanges, donations or a refund for their Transit of Venus tickets,” said Meena.

"Despite our tough call to scale back expenses by reducing and revising schedules and performances, the board believes this is a prudent response, and remains passionately focused on ramping up our presence in the community,” said Norris. “It is important that our donors, and the community at large, know that we are willing to take decisive steps to ensure the future of our organization.”

Steve Hershfield, treasurer of the board of directors, added, “We view this as an important adjustment that confirms our long-standing commitment to fiscal responsibility and stewardship. We will have completed our new three-year business plan by December, and an evolved strategic plan by next spring. The Board of Directors, patron leadership, auxiliary organizations and staff are committed to meeting these new challenges, just as we have met the challenges of this past year, and previous years.”

Plans are well underway for the company’s highly anticipated Bella Notte, the annual Fall Gala fundraising event, which will be held Oct. 24, 2009, on the set of La Bohème on the stage of the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. The 2010 season will begin with La Bohème scheduled for Jan. 23, 24, 28 & 30, followed by Love Notes, a special concert of opera and Zarzuela (Spanish folk opera) benefiting the Hispanic Scholarship Fund on Feb. 20 at the new Knight Theater, Carmen, starring international opera diva Denyce Graves opposite the luminous Carl Tanner, slated for Mar. 13, 14, 18 & 20, and concluding with Otello, starring Carl Tanner on May 6 and 8.

About Opera Carolina
Founded in 1948 as the Charlotte Opera Association by a small group of volunteers, Opera Carolina today is the largest professional opera company in the Carolinas with an operating budget of over $3.5 million for the fiscal year 2009. The mission of Opera Carolina is to inspire the region’s diverse community through the presentation of excellent Opera, Operetta, Music Theater, and Education & Outreach programs that elevate the quality of life in the Carolinas. Opera Carolina is a community resource with a commitment to artistic excellence and community service.

Opera Carolina is supported by the Arts & Science Council-Charlotte/Mecklenburg and the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency funded by the state of North Carolina, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Opera Carolina is a member of OPERA America.