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Ausrine Stundyte as Cio-Cio-San, Elizabeth Janes as Butterfly’s child and Sarah Larsen as Suzuki in Seattle Opera's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Photo by Elise Bakketun.
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Original Article:
Managing in a Tough Economy: How Nonprofit Leaders and Their Organizations Are Facing the Uncertainty
Bridgestar ,
Original Content
These have rapidly become some of the most challenging times most of us have ever seen. Even for nonprofit leaders who are accustomed to making much of little, the repercussions of the current downturn are difficult to fathom and challenging to address.

Related Article(s):
Governance and the Artistic Product
Kelley Rourke ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
Every opera production is a complex machine comprising many moving, delicate and unpredictable parts, so planning a successful opera season is a piece of almost impossibly sophisticated engineering. In addition to encyclopedic knowledge of operatic repertoire and creative and performing artists, season planning requires technical and financial savvy, intimate acquaintance with company strengths and weaknesses, and an understanding of what excites audience members — current and prospective.
Summer Festivals: Finding a Way to Shine During the Dark Months
Kelley Rourke ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
Summer opera festivals have a special allure for the cultural tourist — people travel hundreds, even thousands, of miles to see three or four performances in as many days. While an out-of-town audience is a source of justifiable pride, local support remains essential. With their brief mainstage seasons — eight weeks at most — how do these companies remain part of the fabric of the community during the long "dark" months?
Prepping for the New 990
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations, OPERA America ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
The IRS Form 990, "Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax," is submitted by tax-exempt and nonprofit organizations to the Internal Revenue Service on an annual basis. The 990 is used by government agencies and charity watchdog groups to prevent organizations from abusing their tax-exempt status. The IRS also provides Web sites such as with copies of 990s; often this is the only way such information is made available since many tax-exempt organizations do not otherwise publish their audited financials.
Highlights from The 2006 Annual Field Report
Patricia Egan and Nancy Sasser ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
If you’ve looked at the financial statements and box office reports of your opera company over the last few years, you’ve probably seen a mix of good news and bad news, as the results of OPERA America’s annual Professional Opera Survey (POS) confirm.
Highlights from the 2007 Annual Field Report
Larry Bomback and Anthony Cekay ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
OPERA America's Annual Field Report (AFR) is based on the Professional Opera Survey (POS) that member opera companies complete each year, submitting details of their annual financial, performance and attendance activity. The 2007 AFR covers the fiscal year that ended during calendar year 2007, and includes data reaching back to 2003, summarizing key facts and trends in the United States and Canada.
Singing the Same Tune
Matthew Shivlock ,
The placing of artists in opera houses can, at times, be as fraught with drama as the works enacted on stage. The relative ease of travel and the growing supply of good opera singers have created a culture of maneuverability and choice surrounding the engagement of singers. With choice comes complexity, and this complexity can result in unnecessary misunderstandings between artist managers and artistic administration.
A Foot in the Door
Megan Young, Artistic Services Manager, OPERA America ,
It seems fair to say that everyone in the opera world is aware of the existence of young artist programs -- the training grounds for tomorrow’s operatic power players. But many people don’t realize that apprentice programs are not just for the people who want to be on stage. A wealth of training opportunities are available for those who want to learn what it’s like behind the scenes in the areas of administration, coaching, conducting, and technical/production.
Weathering the Economic Crisis
Stephanie Golden ,
With the fundraising climate at its worst since 1998 (according to a December 2008 report by Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy), how can community arts education (CAE) organizations best meet the challenges of the economic downturn?
The Importance and Value of Program Assessment
Evan Wildstein, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
Education stakeholders have long been aware of how crucial evaluation is to the success of programming. In the age of testing and assessment, arts educators should know this better than most, especially when the 2008 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in arts and music, The Nation’s Report Card: Arts 2008 Music & Visual Arts, showed marginal student achievement.
U.S. Main Season Box Office Revenue Rises 11% over Five-Year Period; Ticket Gap Widens
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations, OPERA America ,
Original Content10/7/2009
Given the state of the economy, it is not surprising that the most common question asked of OPERA America staff members nowadays is some variant on: “How is the field doing?” This brief article seeks to clarify some points using data extracted from the most recent Annual Field Report, covering fiscal years 2004 through 2008.

Through the Professional Opera Survey, OPERA America has collected extensive financial and operational data on professional companies dating back more than two decades. Companies that have participated in five consecutive annual surveys comprise the Constant Sample Groups of the Annual Field Report. In the 2008 Annual Field Report, there were 63 professional companies (excluding the Metropolitan Opera) in the U.S. Constant Sample Group and 11 professional companies in the Canadian Constant Sample Group. These numbers make up approximately 55% of OPERA America professional company membership, but using a constant sample group rather than the entire field universe (which changes every year) allows for a more reliable and accurate data analysis.
Check-Up: Health-Care Reform Proposals and the Opera Field
Staff Amy Fitterer, Patricia Read, Derek Davis, David Bennett
Original Content10/13/2009
OPERA America Webinar Series
Recent Trends in Program Coverage, Artistic Expenses and Individual Giving
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations, OPERA America ,
Original Content10/29/2009
Over the past 10 years, professional opera company budgets in the U.S. grew annually, on average, at a rate that was about two to two-and-a-half times the U.S. consumer price index (CPI). During consultations with board members and general directors, OPERA America President and CEO Marc A. Scorca referred to this percentage as the Opera Price Index (OPI). Core artistic expenses (the sum of artistic personnel, technical/production personnel and production costs) are an important element of this "opera-flation."
Personnel Reflections
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations, OPERA America ,
Original Content12/7/2009
In response to member requests for more data assessment, OPERA America has embarked on a series of brief analyses derived from the Professional Opera Survey that companies complete each year.

The Surveys reveal that while total budgets among a constant sample group of U.S. Companies rose by 47% since the start of the new millennium, expenses allocated to support staff responsible for revenue generation have increased even faster. Marketing personnel costs have risen 82% since FY2000, and development personnel costs have risen 70% over that same time. (Looking at only the percentage gains does not tell the whole story, since technical and production personnel costs increase in one year the amount that marketing personnel costs rise over a decade.)
Enjoy Responsibly: Alcohol and Food Policies
Carolyn Conway, Thomas Morris, Liz Kellogg, Larry Bomback , Larry Bomback, Carolyn Conway, Thomas Morris, Liz Kellogg
Original Content12/9/2009
Every opera company hosts galas and other events where food and alcohol are an expected component. But companies must balance the offerings with social responsibility, to ensure their own safety and that of their employees and patrons. Though laws vary from state to state, the problems are often uniform and similar, like keeping consumption safe and legal. How do you ensure a successful event while still exercising the necessary controls? Join DiMento & Sullivan Attorney Carolyn Conway, The Santa Fe Opera’s administrative director, Thomas Morris, and human resources director Liz Kellogg for a frank discussion of this often-neglected topic.
Highlights of the 2008 Annual Field Report
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations, OPERA America ,
Original Content1/13/2010
OPERA America’s Annual Field Report (AFR) is based on the Professional Opera Survey, which member companies complete each year by submitting details of their annual financial, performance and attendance activity. Formerly a stand-alone document, the 2008 Annual Field Report was included within OPERA America’s new Year in Review publication, released this past fall. Individual members can access a full-color PDF of the Year in Review by clicking here.

Forty-two of the 74 companies in the Constant Sample Group (CSG) reported a surplus for the year. In FY08, the median revenue and expense among the 74 companies was nearly $2.6 million, while the average company budget size was over $7.2 million. Total individual contributions — including unrestricted, temporarily and permanently restricted — grew 12% from 2007 to 2008.

Total North American productions rose to their highest levels in FY08 compared with the previous four seasons. However, companies, on average, reported a 4% year-over-year decrease in total seats available and a 2.5% year-over-year decline in total attendance.
Tax Issues for Artists
Larry Bomback, director of finance and operations, OPERA America, Anne Adamowsky, accountant, Trudy C. Durant and Associates
Making Connections1/27/2010
Basic tax preparation can be a tricky endeavor. Add self-employment, itemized deductions and quarterly filing to the mix, and overwhelming does not begin to describe the process. Learn from a panel of experienced taxpayers and certified professionals how to best approach finance as an independent artist.
Cultural Data Project Explained
Larry Bomback, Jessica Cahail , Larry Bomback, Jessica Cahail
Original Content1/29/2010
OPERA America and the Cultural Data Project (CDP) have teamed up to create an online version of the Professional Opera Survey (POS). Beginning in January 2010, OPERA America member organizations will now complete the CDP’s standardized online form for arts and cultural organizations, followed by several sections of opera-specific questions, developed by OPERA America. This powerful online management tool will streamline the annual data collection process and provide all statistics for future Professional Opera Survey Reports. OPERA America member organizations can use the CDP to produce a variety of instantaneously-generated reports designed to help increase management capacity, identify strengths and challenges, and inform decision-making. Join Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations at OPERA America, and Jessica Cahail, Senior Associate at the Cultural Data Project, for an in-depth tour of this new paperless survey and benchmarking tool.
History of the Cultural Data Project / Professional Opera Survey Collaboration
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance & Operations, OPERA America ,
Original Content2/10/2010
In August 2008, OPERA America staff met with Marian Godfrey and Neville Vakharia of Pew Charitable Trusts to discuss the possibility of OPERA America integrating its Professional Opera Survey (POS) with the Cultural Data Project (CDP). OPERA America had already been planning to turn the Professional Opera Survey into an online form, and consultants Cool Spring Analytics had referred OPERA America to CDP to see if there was mutual benefit. After seeing a demonstration of how the CDP collects information and generates useful reports instantaneously, OPERA America staff left the meeting impressed and excited about a potential collaboration.

OPERA America staff convened a small committee of finance network representatives to gauge their interest in and enthusiasm for such a collaboration. The committee included a few representatives from companies in Pennsylvania and California, where CDP had already established a presence in the state, and they were particularly supportive of a joint form. Other representatives, including those from New York City Opera and Boston Lyric Opera, were already aware that CDP would soon have a presence in their states and saw the inevitability, if not the necessity, of an integrated data collection system.
Planned Giving Strategies
Larry Bomback, Thomas Bonhag, Robert Heuer , Larry Bomback, Thomas Bonhag, Robert Heuer
Original Content2/16/2010
A common concern among donors is how assets will be distributed when they can no longer oversee the process. As a donor, how can you best invest money to reap the benefits during your life, but still ensure a lasting and positive impact? As a development director, how do you broach this delicate subject well-informed and effectively? This session, featuring Thomas Bonhag, a Certified Financial Planner from National Madison Group and a member of the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning, will help guide you through the complex financial instruments available, and look at investing via life insurance policies. Robert Heuer, general director of Florida Grand Opera, will also participate.
Multimedia Resources on OPERA America's Web Site
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations, OPERA America ,
Original Content3/3/2010
We recently posted to our Archives three webcasts. Made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, these online seminars are available to all OPERA America members free of charge:

  1. Enjoy Responsibly: Carolyn Conway, a Boston-based attorney who specializes in food and alcohol law, and Tom Morris and Liz Kellogg, of The Santa Fe Opera, lead a seminar on best practices with regard to opera company alcohol policies at company parties, donor events and performances.
    Of particular interest to administrative and human resources professionals.

  2. The Cultural Data Project Explained: Larry Bomback, OPERA America's director of finance and operations, and Jessica Cahail, senior associate at the Cultural Data Project, demonstrate how to use the new Cultural Data Project/Professional Opera Survey collaborative online form.
    Of particular interest to finance network representatives of Professional Company Members.

  3. Planned Giving: Tom Bonhag of National Madison and Bob Heuer, general director and CEO of Florida Grand Opera, share their positive and negative experiences with life insurance, charitable remainder trusts and other instruments in the estate planning toolbox.
    Of particular interest to development professionals.

These webcasts can be accessed by clicking here.
Taxing Foreign Artists
Robyn Guilliams, FTM Arts Law attorney, Larry Bomback, Director of Finance, OPERA America, Amy Fitterer, Director of Government Affairs, OPERA America , Robyn Guilliams, FTM Arts Law attorney, Larry Bomback, Director of Finance, OPERA America, Amy Fitterer, Director of Government Affairs, OPERA America
Original Content3/17/2010
Visiting artists bring a sometimes unique perspective to your stage, and equally unique issues to your tax returns. Pretty much anyone who performs in the US gets taxed, but the simplicity ends there. What compensation is subject to withholding? Can artists without a Social Security Number be paid? Answers to those questions, and any others you may have particular to your situation, in this discussion with FTM Arts Law attorney and tax-withholding expert Robyn Guilliams, co-author of Artists From Abroad.
Fundraising for Independent Artists
Beryl B. Byles, executive coach, Dianne Debicella, program director, fiscal sponsorship, Fractured Atlas; Eve Gigliotti, mezzo-soprano; Anne Ricci, general managing diva, Opera on Tap
Making Connections3/24/2010
Many, if not most, independent artists will have to raise funds during their careers - to produce a piece, attend a training program or simply to continue study. Panelists at this session will discuss their experiences, tips and strategies for cultivating donor relationships and raising funds.
Contributed Income Over 20-Year Period
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance & Operations, OPERA America ,
Original Content4/13/2010
OPERA America’s 20-year Professional Opera Company U.S. Constant Sample Group reported a 412% rise in total contributed income from 1988 to 2008. This amounts to annualized growth in contributions of approximately 9% each year. Not surprisingly, by 2008, the lion’s share of contributions was the result of gifts from the opera-going public. Indeed, 62% of all contributions in 2008 came from individual donors; 20 years ago, this figure was 40%.
Interview: George Steel of New York City Opera
Marc A. Scorca, President & CEO, OPERA America ,
Original Content4/18/2011
OPERA America’s Marc A. Scorca interviewed George Steel, New York City Opera General Manager and Artistic Director on April 12, 2011 about recent press, the 2011-2012 season and union negotiations.
Healthy and Creative Aging
Laura Day Giarolo, Manager of Education & Community Engagement, OPERA America ,
Original Content4/28/2011
Baby boomers are hitting retirement and a great shift in the American population is underway. By 2050, the U.S. Census Bureau has projected that older adults (ages 65 and up) will number 88.5 million; nearly one in five Americans will be over age 65 by the year 2030. While this statistic may send some of our marketing colleagues into a quiet panic over the need to develop a new and younger audience, it opens up a whole new area of arts education: creative aging and true lifelong learning.
Reading to Write: A Book List for Composers
Staff ,
Original Content6/1/2011
Composers are rarely limited by the domain of music; they are inspired by all of their senses. Writing a piece is an extension of your experiences and reflects the language you speak musically and otherwise. At OPERA America, we love using books as a tool for inspiration. We discussed literature and reference texts with industry experts and compiled a reading list for opera composers with topics in technical skills, biographies, history, business, publishing, vocal reference and a few from other art fields. As you explore these resources, take your investigation beyond the page. Interact with singers, work backstage, listen and analyze scores to form an intimate relationship with opera writing.
Last Chance Summer Reading!: Arts Education Reading and Resources
Laura Day Giarolo, Director of Learning and Community Engagement, OPERA America ,
Original Content9/12/2011
Though summer weather is still going strong, the start of another school year is right around the corner! As you begin planning for the fall, be sure to check out these great resources for arts education:

Not in Kansas Anymore
Joyce DiDonato sounds off on the recent elimination of funding for the arts by her home state of Kansas.

Art Talk
The National Endowment for the Arts’ Art Works Blog features Art Talk interviews with prominent artists. See what Sandra Radvanovsky has to say about arts education, gain new insights from Marna Stalcup of the Right Brain Initiative and hear how early experiences with arts education made a lasting impact on NEA staff.
How to Talk About Finances So Non-Financial Folks Will Listen
Bridgestar Staff ,
Original Content12/22/2011
Nonprofit staff members almost universally understand the importance of achieving the mission of the organization and are trained in delivering direct services such as feeding the hungry, educating low-income children, or advocating for a more sustainable environment. However, many of these individuals, while highly skilled in a particular program area, do not have a lot of training and experience in working with financial data. Understandably, when prioritizing their work, nonprofit line managers will often choose to spend their time feeding the hungry over examining numbers on a departmental budget spreadsheet.
CFOs Delve into Business Planning
Bridgestar ,
Original Content5/29/2012
The members of Bridgestar's New York Nonprofit CFO Networking Group, which comprises more than a dozen nonprofit chief financial officers (CFOs), held a wide-ranging discussion about many facets of business planning at one of their monthly meetings. Jon Huggett, then a partner at The Bridgespan Group, set the framework for the discussion by giving an overview of business planning, and then presenting a case study of the business planning process that the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans (AAMA) went through and the ensuing decisions the organization made1. This was followed by a lively question and answer session that touched on everything from helpful planning tools to the wrenching decisions that have to be made when a popular program is no longer financially viable. The following highlights from the discussion offer valuable insights from both Huggett and from practitioners in the field. Aside from Jon Huggett, participants are identified only by their initials. 
New Membership Structure Brings Surprises
Mark Athitakis, Senior Editor, Associations Now ,
Original Content6/8/2012
An upbeat outlook on life isn't supposed to go out of style, but by early 2010 Optimist International (OI) recognized it was having a hard time attracting younger members.
Managing in a Tough Economy: How Nonprofit Leaders and Their Organizations Are Facing the Uncertainty
Bridgestar ,
Original Content6/8/2012
These have rapidly become some of the most challenging times most of us have ever seen. Even for nonprofit leaders who are accustomed to making much of little, the repercussions of the current downturn are difficult to fathom and challenging to address.

Fall 2014 Magazine Issue
  • Are Women Different?
  • Preparing for Klinghoffer
  • Emerging Artists: Act One

Contact Us
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001
P 212-796-8620 • F 212-796-8621
From Airport:
The easiest way to reach the OPERA America offices is to get a cab at the airport. Cost is $40-45
(not including tip).
  • JFK - Take the AirTrain ($5 - approx. 15 minutes) to the Jamaica Street Station and transfer to the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). Take the LIRR to Penn Station ($12 - approx. 35 minutes). See Penn Station directions below.
  • LaGuardia - Take the M60 Bus to the Hoyt Ave/31st Street. Get on the or Train and take that to 42nd/Times Square Station. Follow the Times Square Station directions below.
  • Newark - Take the New Jersey Transit train to Penn Station ($15 - approx. 45 min). See the Penn Station Directions below.

From Penn Station/Madison Square Garden:
Leave the station through the 7th Avenue/33rd Street exit and walk south for four blocks. The building is on
the right hand side.

From Grand Central Station:
Take the Train to the 42nd/Times Square station and transfer to the Train.
Take the Train to the 28th Street stop and walk north on 7th Avenue.
The building is on the same block as the train stop.

From 42nd Street/Times Square:
Take the Train to the 28th Street stop and walk north on 7th Avenue.
The building is on the same block as the train stop.

For more detailed directions, most up-to-date pricing or to specify a different starting location, please visit the
MTA Web site.