The San Francisco Opera is the largest performing arts company in the Bay Area and the second largest opera company in the United States, with an annual budget of nearly $68 million. In addition to a high-quality mainstage season of ten productions and more than seventy-five performances each year-reaching nearly 225,000 audience members-SF Opera offers a suite of other programs that include a free summer performance series, family-friendly productions, training and professional development for rising opera stars, and in-school education programs for more than 5,000 Bay Area students each year. Since the arrival of General Director David Gockley in 2006, SF Opera has committed to producing new works and has successfully used new technology to broaden access to the arts. For example, its popular Opera in the Ballpark series presents simulcasts of mainstage productions at AT&T Park twice each year to 40,000 people. In 2006, the Hewlett Foundation awarded SF Opera a $10 million unrestricted endowment grant, in part to improve its financial sustainability. Regrettably, the organization projects operating deficits for the next three years and did not meet its free programming goals during the previous grant period. In light of the economic downturn, the company is making difficult choices about its program offerings and has decided to focus on its core mission of producing world-class opera. As such, mainstage artistic production expenses are expected to grow dramatically over the next three years while free programming is being reduced. Given the Program's interest in supporting opportunities for broad access and participation in the arts, and SF Opera's historically important commitment to this goal through its education and outreach programs, these plans are understandable, but raise concerns. Despite these reductions in outreach programs, the company will continue to provide thousands of people with access to free performances each year. With renewed support, SF Opera will continue to present exciting mainstage seasons of extraordinary quality and determine the future of its education and outreach activities.
About the Grantee
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