New York City Opera Seeks to Raise $20 Million to Continue Operation

By Adam Hetrick
September 9, 2013

New York City Opera has launched a public campaign via Kickstarter to raise $20 million in urgently needed funds if the non-profit organization is to remain in operation.



While plans continue to stage Anna Nicole at the Brooklyn Academy of Music beginning Sept. 17, the balance of NYCO's season is currently in peril. The organization must raise $7 million by the end of September to produce the remaining productions in its 2013-14 season, including Bach's Endimione, Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle and Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.

The Kickstarter campaign is enlisting members of the public to help raise $1 million online. Currently over $20,000 has been pledged in the Kickstarter campaign, which ends on Sept. 30. If the full $20 million is not capitalized by December, NYCO will also be forced to scuttle its 2014-15 season, according to the New York Times.

NYCO's statement follows: "We need the help of the people to save The People's Opera: audiences, artists, students, and everyone who cares about a world filled with exciting and innovate art. We are asking everyone to come together, to stand by The People’s Opera, and help us produce our 2013–2014 season!"

NYCO, under the leadership of general manager and artistic director George Steel, announced in May 2011 that it would vacate its permanent home since 1966 at Lincoln Center in order to streamline operating costs, opting instead to perform in venues across New York City. The move aimed to save the organization $4.5 million, according to a New York Times report.

In recent years the opera used $24 million from its endowment to cover expenses and repay loans. The organization, which Steel described to the Times as "living on the edge and hand-to-mouth for a number of years," has been unable to repay the endowment, which at one time provided $3 million in funding annually. That number has now dropped to less than $200,000 per year.

NYCO orchestra committee chair Gail Kruvand told the Times that its members were calling for Steel's resignation. NYCO chairman Charles R. Wall stood by Steel, stating, "George has, and always has had, the complete support of the board, as he should have. He's done a heroic job."

To support NYCO, visit the Kickstarter campaign here.