Arts & Culture

Fort Worth Opera exceeds ‘Million Dollar Summer’ fundraising goal

Mayor Betsy Price presented the first contribution toward the Fort Worth Opera’s Million Dollar Summer campaign to General Director Darren K. Woods on May 31.
Mayor Betsy Price presented the first contribution toward the Fort Worth Opera’s Million Dollar Summer campaign to General Director Darren K. Woods on May 31. rmallison@star-telegram.com

The Fort Worth Opera has surpassed its fundraising goal of $500,000 in its three-month “Million Dollar Summer” campaign, General Director Darren K. Woods said Wednesday. The initial $500,000 raised will be matched by an anonymous donor, whose pledge initiated the campaign.

“Million Dollar Summer” was to run June 1-Aug. 31 (to coincide with the end of the opera’s fiscal year), and the goal was reached one day early — on Tuesday morning, Woods said. He projected that the final amount would be about $58,000 more than the goal.

The fundraising will help cover a projected deficit of about $675,000 for the season — the result of a decline in giving and the $1.3 million-price tag of the opera’s world premiere production of “JFK.”

When the campaign was announced on June 1, opera board President Al Saenz told the Star-Telegram that part of the funds raised would help cover a projected deficit of about $675,000 for the season — the result of a decline in giving and the $1.3 million price tag of the opera’s world premiere of JFK (a co-commission with American Lyric Theater and Opera de Montreal, which helped fund it). The work raised the company’s annual budget — usually between $4.5 and $4.7 million — to $5.2 million.

The campaign fulfilled another mission, Woods said.

“Our goal was to increase the donor base, to not only have foundation base and corporate support, but the number of people who didn’t have disposable income since the recession has been shrinking,” Woods said.

The company increased its donor base by 100 percent, he said.

As part of the gift-match challenge, Tarrant-area community leaders, businesspeople and artists showed support. Among the big-name donors were Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, who pledged the first donation to the campaign. Other contributors include Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau President Bob Jameson, and opera singers Michael Fabiano, Stephen Costello and Victoria Livengood.

“It’s great to see the singers giving back,” Woods said.

$200,000 The largest amount donated by an individual in the Million Dollar Summer campaign.

The largest amount donated by an individual was $200,000, but most of the gifts were made via a “Bernie Sanders route,” he said, meaning small contributions made online.

Now that the campaign has ended, Woods said he hopes it cultivates a culture of giving among new donors. One of the company’s goals is to return to a tradition of producing more than three operas during its annual festival.

“My vision is to get back to four productions, no matter what,” Woods said. “We will try to get back to that in 2018 with two traditional pieces and two new pieces.”

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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