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Commentary

David Gockley
04 Feb 2012

San Francisco Opera — Bad News Tempered by Good

February 4, 2012. With a budget of $71 million dollars, the San Francisco Opera announced a deficit for the FY 2011 year. But the numbers, in the Opera’s press release, contain some good news to offset the negative bottom line.

San Francisco Opera — Bad News Tempered by Good

By Frank Cadenhead

Above: David Gockley

 

The deficit, some $1.8 million, according to the annual audit, was largely the result of increases in operating costs of over 9%. The opera’s general manager, David Gockley, declared that “steps will continue to be taken between 2013-2016 to reduce expenses, increase annual contributions and augment the endowment.”

The 10-opera season under question is one with a heavy load: the summer saw their production of Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” — always a costly project — and the economy remains “tough and turbulent.” But glimmers of good news provided some hope. Operating revenue grew from $27 million to almost $36 million and ticket sales increased 32%. Also, over 11,000 donors contributed some $33.3 million to the operating costs.

The board of directors endorsed the management of Mr. Gockley and noted that the opera’s endowment as of July 31 of last year, $138.4 million is almost double what it was when he arrived six years ago. Said George Hume, the board president, “San Francisco Opera faces serious long-term challenges to its business model, as many classical music organizations do nationwide. At the end of the day, the board firmly believes that having an internationally renowned opera company in San Francisco is part of what makes the Bay Area one of the most special places in the world.”

Frank Cadenhead

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