Thursday, October 01, 2015

California Impact of Gotham Chamber Opera Collapse

Press release received a little while ago:


Gotham Chamber Opera is ceasing operations and will be closing. The Board of Directors of Gotham Chamber Opera voted today to shut down the organization. 

"We regret to announce that Gotham Chamber Opera will cease operations," said Beatrice Broadwater, president of the Board of Directors of Gotham Chamber Opera. "In early summer, the company's new executive director, Edward Barnes, uncovered a significant deficit that was not previously disclosed to the board.  We do not have, nor do we anticipate having, sufficient donations and pledges that would enable continued operations of the company." 

"I am proud to have founded Gotham Chamber Opera," said artistic director Neal Goren. "The company's fifteen year lifespan has been an extraordinary run, and we have been fortunate to be a part of New York City's cultural landscape. We are grateful to all of our generous donors, collaborators and attendees, and thank them for their support."
The company's future productions have been cancelled, and the board is meeting to determine the steps to wrap-up the organization's affairs.
And here is the money graf from Michael Cooper's NY Times article; emphasis mine:
Company officials declined to say exactly how large the deficit was, but described it as being in the “mid six figures.” Gotham’s annual budget was under $2 million, according to its most recent tax filings, which the company said it would have to amend to reflect its true finances. Mr. Barnes — who took over as executive director from David Bennett, who left to become general director of the San Diego Opera — said that it was unclear whether “Charlie Parker’s Yardbird,” which it planned to put on in May as a production with the Apollo Theater and Opera Philadelphia, could be performed without its participation.
And further down in the article:
Mr. Bennett, the former executive director, denied that he had kept the board in the dark about Gotham’s debts. “Some of the internal controls could have been better, but they weren’t undisclosed,” he said, noting that he had produced opera with a shoestring staff. “We sat on the razor’s edge for years, but we created some amazing things.” 


CruzSF said...

Do you mean "Cooper goes on to say" instead of "Bennett goes on to say" as the intro to the last paragraph?

In any event, a truly sad day for small opera companies, performers, and audiences. I never attended one of their performances, but I knew of them because they commissioned new work. Bennett's last wording seems a little odd. I hope SD Opera keeps careful oversight.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Yeah, I meant Bennet, just cut the paragraph at the wrong point. I will edit.