How SF Opera Found Itself In Money Trouble

So how did San Francisco Opera, one of the biggest in America, work itself into a $7 million debt? “In 1999, with 93 performances and $24 million ticket income, we had an optimal year. Last year it was $22.4, the previous two years, $21.2 and $23.7 and for the current year we are projecting $21.5. There is Iraq, and the tourists are not coming. We’re trying to cut costs as responsibly and as carefully as possible. Every dollar. It would be phenomenal to end with zero deficit.”

Racing The Clock In Colorado

“Colorado Springs Philharmonic leaders formally announced nine days ago the creation of the orchestra to replace the defunct Colorado Springs Symphony, and already time is running short to carry through on their plans to present a 2003-04 season… The philharmonic is scrambling to find guest artists and secure dates at the Pikes Peak Center, work that normally would have been done months ago. If that weren’t hard enough, the organization has to quickly begin raising enough money to get the orchestra off the ground. Fundraising is tough any time but especially on such a tight deadline when community feelings are still unsettled in the wake of the symphony’s bankruptcy.”

A Philanthropist On The Ropes

Alberto Vilar, the philanthropist and opera-lover who has donated more than $300 million to arts organizations around the world, has missed mortgage payments on three vacation homes in Colorado, and local banks are foreclosing. Vilar, who was one of the first investors on the high-tech bandwagon of the 1990s, appears not to have gotten off in time to avoid heavy investment losses. In recent months, he has missed payments to several arts organizations to which he had pledges outstanding, and the current overdue mortgage payments reportedly total $2.74 million. Vilar is said to be furious with the banks’ decision to foreclose.

Dance After Ballet

“The audience today loves dancing, no doubt about that. What it doesn’t love is the aura of preciousness and affectation that clings to ballet. Classical ballet companies have yet to find convincing ways to erase these misconceptions and hook the permanent audience they need — and still preserve the idea of classicism. Meanwhile, other dance enterprises thrive by applying ballet’s components to performance that doesn’t intimidate.”

UK Artists Get Funding Boost

Arts Council England has announced a large increase in arts funding. “Overall, the Arts Council – funded by government money and lottery receipts – will distribute £410 million by 2005/6, compared with £335 million in 2003/4. A host of new groups, which do not usually get funding from the Arts Council, will get £123 million. Individual artists will benefit from a £25 million fund for the next three years – double what is available to them now.”

Opportunity Through Shakespeare

Is Shakespeare the new opportunity for female actors? “From solo plays to plays using music, dance, and original monologues and dialogues, women are freely appropriating almost anything relating to the Bard – his plays, his sonnets, even his biography – to forge highly original works that showcase female sensibilities, perspectives, and talent.”

NJ Arts Supporters Enlist Businesses To Lobby State For Arts Funding

New Jersey Governor James McGreevey says he’s reconsidering zeroing out the state’s arts budget, but for now the budget line still reads empty. “Arts organizations in New Jersey feel they now have a better chance of persuading state officials to restore funding because business groups have added their backing. Some chambers of commerce have made an effort to rally businesses that have a direct interest in arts activities.”

British Radio Restricts Songs During The War

British radio stations are restricting the songs they play. ” ‘We do not want to upset listeners by playing anything which is inappropriate in the current climate. We continue to monitor our output on a daily basis in light of the war to ensure we are sensitive to the expectations of our listeners’. Producers have been asked to play music with a ‘light, melodic’ feel before and after news bulletins, especially if the reports contained distressing news.”

The Objective Image – Is There Such A Thing?

When it comes top journalism, facts are not just facts. A case in point – Americans are fascinated by pictures of the war, yet, “difficult” images of the war – dead bodies, for example – aren’t being shown, as they are elsewhere. “At issue are several questions central to reporting and consuming news in the era of 24-hour television coverage and the burgeoning independent news media on the World Wide Web: Are images facts or illustrations? If a fact is ugly, should it be kept at a distance from readers and viewers? And what do news organizations do with the simple fact that there is both an eager appetite for, and a sincere disgust with, graphic images?”