This fundraising effort has a story to tell.
“We want to provide a fundraising campaign that provides a platform for people to join in and share their stories about why arts and culture are so important to the identity of Fort Worth,” says Mark Saville, director of development for Fort Worth Opera, by way of explaining FOREWORD, a $1 million, summer-long funding campaign, announced Monday .
So in addition to writing checks, Saville and the opera are hoping that donors will write stories.
“That’s how we came up with this idea of FOREWORD as a title. It is spelled like the preface to a new story, which is where we find ourselves, I think,” Saville says. “We began to explore the history of Fort Worth and our place in it as the oldest opera company in Texas.
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“And much like the rough-and-tumble beginning of this city, we, as an opera company, grew from very humble beginnings to being called the most forward-thinking opera company in the United States by the Wall Street Journal.”
Saville says he hopes to collect and distribute memories from supporters by every means possible.
“We really want to engage our community to tell us why the arts and culture are so important to them, and interweave that narrative with the fundraising campaign,” Saville says. “And we will incorporate it into our websites and our social-media platforms.”
But the opera is also going very low-tech in reaching out to donors.
“All of our direct mailings will have a piece of stationery included where people can write their stories of how the opera has touched their lives,” Saville says. “We are encouraging people to join us as we write the next great chapter in the opera company’s history by literally penning their thoughts on paper and sending them to us with their donation.”
The campaign will start with a wind at its back. Unlike last summer’s fundraiser, there are no matching funds associated with this campaign. But a pair of anonymous donors have provided $250,000 of seed money, leaving the opera with the task of raising $750,000 to meet its stated goal.
Saville, of course, hopes to exceed that $1 million figure, noting that the funds are needed to “make a push to end our fiscal year and help get ourselves into a much stronger place for whomever takes the helm to lead Fort Worth Opera into the next chapter.”
Fort Worth Opera is without a general director after the dismissal of Darren K. Woods in February. He had served 16 years in that position.
Saville says the opera has been “interviewing many candidates,” and that a new general director will be hired “probably by the end of the summer, we would hope.”
Those wishing to make a donation or share their opera-related stories may visit the organization’s Facebook page, post on Twitter, or visit the special website created for the campaign: www.fwforeword.org.