On January 8, the Florida Grand Opera's (FGO) general director and CEO, Susan T. Danis, announced that a fundraising goal of $400,000 from Broward patrons and donors would be crucial to ensuring the company's 2015-16 mainstage productions.
Last fall, FGO hosted "Town Hall"-style meetings to explain its financial situation and drum up interest from preexisting patrons and donors and in order to attract new ones. The new strategic plan announced the "SAY YES! to Opera, South Florida" initiative, a $17.5 million campaign to fund the company's plans.
FGO is not one to rest on its laurels, and the company undertook an aggressive and proactive approach to its mission, engaging Broward communities with outreach programs and events as well as individual, one-on-one meets with the county's movers and shakers.
While positive opinion continued to arise from their efforts, the truth of the matter was that the campaign was not performing at its projected speed.
At that point, Danis released this statement:
"With the New Year upon us, we've had to seriously evaluate the progress of the campaign and estimate whether we can reasonably achieve our fundraising goals. Unfortunately, over the past decade, support for the Opera in Broward County has significantly declined.
FGO lost over $125,000 on its four productions at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (BCPA) last season and there is a projected loss again this season. Given FGO's delicate financial condition, this cannot be repeated.
Although FGO has only been able to secure two mainstage performance slots in Ft. Lauderdale for the 2015-16 Season due to the increasing demand for dates at the newly renovated BCPA, we believe that our supporters will rise to the challenge and keep opera alive in Broward County.
Given that more than $1,000,000 was raised annually just a few years ago, and with nearly 13,000 people attending, this goal is well within reach."
FGO needed to raise and/or secure pledging of $600,000 by January 31 to inform the BCPA if it would use its reserved dates. By January 8, FGO had secured a third of its financial goal.
That is, until January 19, when FGO announced that an anonymous donor had stepped forward to help the financially crippled institution with an offer matching its raised monies.
"This amazing person is willing to match every dollar raised between now and the end of January," said Danis in the news release. "We are so fortunate to have an individual who wants to ensure that opera is available for the residents of Broward County at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. What a wonderful opportunity."
It is no secret that the performing arts are under as much stress as all other cultural entities. That's a worldwide truth. There's a predicament world-class cities and communities experience, the double-edged sword of having to triage between intrinsic services and peripheral elements like museums and operas. But the truth of the matter is that cultural orgs like museums and operas are what make communities attractive to its residents and visitors.
For those interested in following the anonymous donor's suit, you can contact FGO's senior individual giving officer, Max Kellogg, at 305-403-3289 or online at fgo.org. This season already opened with a fantastic production of Madama Butterfly, and now veteran stage director Bernard Uzan brings a modernized version of Mozart's Così fan tutte to Miami-Dade and Broward.
South Florida can boast world-class opera, and it is largely in thanks of the tireless efforts of Danis and FGO.
Così fan tutte will debut at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, February 12, at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $21 to $200. Call 954-462-0222, or visit fgo.org.