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Seattle Opera Expects A Deficit

Marcie Sillman

Seattle Opera is the latest local arts group to announce budget problems.


For almost 20 years, Seattle Opera has been one of the few local arts groups that has not been in financial trouble. But this week, Opera officials announced they expect to end their artistic season one million dollars in the hole.

In a release, Seattle Opera attributed the shortfall to the ongoing recession. Fewer patrons buy full season ticket subscriptions, and many audience members opt for less expensive seats. Corporate and private philanthropy is also down.

Seattle Opera General Director Speight Jenkins says given the state of the economy, his company has no choice but to scale back on productions and administration.

Jenkins: "What I believe, and what I've said to the board, and what I've said to anybody who's asked me, is that what Seattle wants to see is a plan. As an organization, we now have a plan to accomplish what we need to do financially. And I believe, I hope correctly, that the money will follow."

Jenkins and other leaders will take pay cuts. Seattle Opera also will eliminate four full–time positions.

Audiences will see only three full productions during the 2013 season, instead of four. And the Opera has cancelled a production of Wagner's "Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg," planned for the summer of 2014.

This year's season will continue as announced, with a full production of Wagner's "Ring" cycle next summer. Jenkins says Seattle Opera has already raised almost $2.5 million specifically for the "Ring."

I'm Marcie Sillman, KUOW News.

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