Workers ask San Diego City Council to help them save San Diego Opera

SAN DIEGO - About 50 employees of the San Diego Opera called Tuesday on the City Council to help them save the 49-year-old institution.

The opera's board of directors announced last month that it would shut down, citing an untenable financial condition. The move was met with opposition from employees and the public.

"There are nearly 50 full-time staff members, along with about 350 local musicians, singers and other tradespeople who depend on five months of work that they have during our opera season," said Nicolas Reveles, the organization's director of education.

He said the opera has a nearly $7 million impact on the local economy. The San Diego Symphony alone earned $1.4 million in revenue during the recently completed opera season, and the San Diego Civic Theatre made $800,000, he said.

"I respectfully ask the San Diego City Council to resolve to support this grassroots San Diego Opera effort to save us, to save our beloved company, for the San Diego community," Reveles said. "We need our arts to make this city great."

The opera members in the council chamber sang for about two minutes following his comments.

Carlos Cota, the business representative for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 122, said several board members are now working to try to save the opera. He said the shutdown makes no sense.

"We're going to do everything in our power to overturn this and try to keep the opera alive in San Diego for future generations," Cota said.

Their remarks came during an open public comment period of the council meeting. The council members did not respond.

A video created by some opera employees and the appearance before the council defies an opera leadership memo asking staff to "speak with one voice." (Watch the video below)

The memo, penned by San Diego Opera board Chairwoman Karen Cohen, says the opera is creating an "operations team" and all decisions and public statements will be made by the "operations team."

Team 10 obtained the following memo:

Now that Don Quixote is underway, it is important to all our constituents-staff, supporters, audiences, and performers-that the Opera for the next few weeks is managed, speaks with one voice and is as professional as possible. From now until further notice, what we are calling the "Operations Team" will make executive and administrative, particularly about financial issues, publicity, and public statements. All decisions will be made by a minimum of four of the five following people-myself, Ian, Keith, Michael and Ann. This system may be a bit cumbersome, but it sets a protocol, covers all the departments, seeks everyone's input and involves the Board through myself, when appropriate.

The employees have been instructed on this policy, so please do not put any staff member in an awkward position by requesting something or instructing them in any way that is counter to this system.

Please ask me or one of the other Operation Team members if you need information or have requests going forward. We all appreciate your cooperation.

Thank you,

Karen


In a video posted on YouTube, some opera employees spoke on the situation (mobile users http://bit.ly/1g59Xli)

Print this article Back to Top

Comments