Producing art is a personal thing. Producing inspired art is a very personal thing. So meet Beth Morrison, who has a passion for contemporary opera and is doing something about it. As in producing it.
Morrison is not your typical moneyed patron. “I didn’t come from money and I didn’t have money and I wanted to live in New York!” she says. She runs her empire from a two-bedroom walk-up apartment in Flatbush, Brooklyn.
One bedroom in the apartment is for sleeping. The other is a workspace for her eight employees. “I’ve always run the business from my home, maybe much to the chagrin of my board,” she says. “For me, the decision is always really clear: I could spend $30 to $40,000 on an office space every year, or I could put that into a commission.”
She’s got the essential impresario gene:
Morrison says she follows her guts and her ears in her work. “I won’t do anything unless I’m mad crazy about the music and the composer and really feeling like they’re contributing something to the field that is different,” she says.
In a way, she’s the antithesis of institutional art. She works on a shoestring, makes things happen in makeshift ways, and relies on her gut for essential artistic judgments. There’s something authentic about her productions in a way that institutional art sometimes lacks.
As an aside – I love the NPR headline about the Morrison profile: “Meet The Producer Who Runs Her Opera Empire From A 2-Bedroom Apartment.” Empire? Seriously? It’s lovely to think that there could actually be something like an opera empire in this day and age.