Seattle Opera Expects First Budget Shortfall in 13 Years

Classic Arts News   Seattle Opera Expects First Budget Shortfall in 13 Years
Seattle Opera announced at its annual meeting yesterday that it would post a budget deficit of $250,000-$280,000 for 2004-05, the Seattle Times reports.

The shortfall, the company's first in 13 years, will be covered by cash reserves.

The reason for the shortfall was a downturn in ticket sales amounting to $1.25 million below the projected amount. The budget for the 2004-05 season started at $19.5 million and was cut to $18.5 million, with all staff members taking a wage freeze.

Speight Jenkins, the company's general director, said, "[This] is an outgrowth of the way we have to plan ahead. We had lots of big ticket sales in 2003-04, our first year in the new [McCaw Hall]. So we scheduled a large number of shows for our 2004-05 productions, and then had to move fast to save as much money as possible in advance when we didn't sell enough tickets."

Jenkins said the company was determined to balance the $25 million 2005-06 budget, which includes separate funding for a $7.8 million Ring cycle.

According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, other Seattle arts groups are faring a bit better. Both the Pacific Northwest Ballet and Seattle Symphony Orchestra were optimistic about balancing their budgets, or at least coming close to it.

PNB's executive director D. David Brown said, "We have recovered from the downturn we encountered during our transition to McCaw Hall."

The symphony's specific figures won't be available until next month, but the accumulated deficit is down $742,000 from last year and now stands at $858,000, according to the Post-Intelligencer.

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