New York City Opera, with one more day to fundraise, sings final appeal

new york city opera
The New York City Opera, here presenting Benjamin Britten’s “The Turn of the Screw” at BAM Opera House, has until the end of Monday to raise some $5 million or the current season will be suspended and its curtains may close forever.
Credit: Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images

The New York City Opera has until the end of Monday to raise some $5 million or the current season will be suspended and its curtains may close forever.

“We know it’s a steep mountain to climb in short amount of time,” George Steel, the opera’s general manager and artistic director, said of the last-ditch effort.

The opera has acquired about $2 million since announcing at the beginning of September it had just a month to raise $7 million to put on the rest of the season.

The board voted last week to begin bankruptcy proceedings Tuesday if the remaining funds were not obtained.

In the meantime, Steel said the opera is focusing their efforts on large donors.

“We are reaching out to all kinds of people in all kinds of ways,” Steel added.

The opera’s tenacity might be paying off: Between the board’s meeting last week and early Sunday night, at least half a million dollars were raised.

Smaller donations have also increased. A Kickstarter campaign launched by the opera has raised over $118,000 in the last few days, with more than $274,000 total pledged as of early Sunday night. However, those funds will only be accessible if the campaign reaches its $1-million goal.

“They’ve been generous so far but there’s still so much more we need,” Steel said, noting the opera has been following up with some large donors in person.

Still, Steel isn’t optimistic about prospects of a bankruptcy.

“We’re thinking about our family of artists and what affect it would have on them,” he said.

Steel also wondered what affect the opera’s closure would have on the city.

A bankruptcy would leave New York with only one major opera company, the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center, where City Opera was forced to leave in 2011 because of its mounting financial troubles.

Dubbed “the people’s opera” by Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia when it was founded 70 years ago, City Opera has kept its prices comparatively low.

“It would be a huge black eye on the face of New York if it closes,” Steel said.

Even if the current season is saved, the opera needs another $13 million by the end of the year for future seasons.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


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