Board members vote to give San Diego Opera 2 more weeks to raise $10 million

Poor ticket sales, not mismanagement blamed

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Opera has been given two more weeks to try to raise $10 million to save the struggling company. After a nearly five-hour meeting, the board of directors opted to give the Opera until April 29 to resolve its financial problems.

After the marathon session, board president Karen Cohn made the announcement, imploring San Diegans to buy tickets to Don Quixote performances next month and asking donors to get out their checkbooks.

Cohn claimed the biggest reason for the Opera’s financial problems is a lack of ticket sales. Forty percent of the seats for the last four performances of the season still have not been spoken for. 

Cohn said the board has known for several years that the funds would run out this season and became defensive when reporters asked about accusations of fiscal mismanagement.

“Our auditors certify our budget every year,” said Cohn. “We have no irregularities right now. There is no problem with the way we are running it right now.”

During the meeting, Marc Scorca, a well-known opera “fixer” told board members how several other operas in similar predicaments were able to pull themselves back into solvency. He said it is not just about salaries, but also re-thinking the kinds of productions it stages, marketing strategies and other elements.

“If indeed there is a problem of available resources, then I would suggest that the company do whatever it can with its available resources to function responsibly, and while they are regrouping, then think about how should this opera company be reshaped for the next generation,” said Scorca, who is president of Opera America. “It’s been here for 49 years, and I just want to make sure that it’s here for the next half century.”

Bonnie Bell-Bradley would also like to see Opera San Diego survive. The retired school teacher has been a season ticket holder for decades, and in December donated $28,000 to Opera San Diego.

“I feel disappointed because I feel that somebody must’ve known something, and why were they accepting money at that time if this was going to happen?” she asked.

Bell-Bradley says she hopes board members will find a way to resurrect the opera she loves.

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