8 April 2011
New York City Opera Delays Announcing 2011-12 Season Following $5 Million Budgetary Shortfall
New York City Opera has delayed announcing plans for its 2011-12 season in light of a $5 million budgetary shortfall owing, in part, to tickets sales falling "considerably short" of expectations during the company's fall season, City Opera's board chairman, Charles R. Wall, told the New York Times in an interview published today.
Wall, who intends to donate $2.5 million in an effort to reduce the company's deficit, told the Times that the company will only announce a season when the company's board has signed off on a balanced budget for the 2012 fiscal year, and noted that the board was reviewing all options — including staff cuts and salary reductions — in an attempt to place the institution on "sound financial footing." While City Opera's fall season, which included the presentation of Leonard Bernstein's A Quiet Place and Richard Strauss's Intermezzo, achieved a largely positive critical response, Wall noted the gap between the quality of performances and the company's ticket sales, and attributed the imbalance, in part, to the company's marketing.
Wall was appointed chairman of City Opera's board in September 2010 after having served on the company's board from 2001 to 2008. He succeeded Susan L. Baker, whose tenure as chairwoman at City Opera witnessed the thwarted intendancy of Gerard Mortier, who defected from his designated post at the company in 2008 before ever officially assuming office; the company's dearth of a 2008-09 mainstage season owing to renovations to its home, the Koch Theater; and the depletion of City Opera's one-time $57-million endowment owing to years of deficit spending. According to the Times, the company similarly utilized endowment funds to make up a $4.6 million shortfall from last season's budget, currently leaving their endowment at "around $9 million to $10 million."
City Opera's revenues amount to some $22 million for the current season — the second to take place under general manager and artistic director George Steel — and Wall told the Times that the board would be considering a balanced budget commensurate to those funds.