Opera goes bust, will not bludge any more

Another arts bludger bites the bust…and proves that once again the liberal elites who demand their chosen hobby be funded by other peoples money will always refuse to dip into their own pockets to preserve something they love.

On Saturday night, the New York City Opera performed Anna Nicole, a musical work making its American premiere. In the words of the New York Times, it was about “yes, that Anna Nicole” — the model and reality TV star who died in 2007.

Anna Nicole was the first production of the company’s season, and it received good reviews. It is also, however, likely the opera company’s final production, ever.

The opera company’s closing is a tragedy by itself — the death of an egalitarian institution in profoundly un-egalitarian times. But for those interested in the culture enabled by and built around the Internet, the company’s story also exemplifies the failures of Kickstarter. 

Established 70 years ago by Mayor Fiorella La Guardia as “the people’s opera,” the New York City Opera has struggled financially for the last decade. As the Times has reported in a seriesofstories this month, since 2008, the City Opera has left its longtime home at Lincoln Center, slashed its performance schedule, and borrowed against its endowment. Its endowment, too, now produces less than $200,000 a year, according to the Times. It used to produce millions.

Early in September, City Opera saw an upcoming financial cliff. $20 million was required, it said, for it to be able to fund itself through the year; $7 million was required for the company to survive September. It turned to private donors for much of that amount, but, to raise $1 million, it opened a Kickstarter.

Which makes a little bit of sense. Kickstarter has cachet among a certain young and affluent demographic, a group that arts organizations struggle to reach. Maybe Kickstarter even makes not-having-enough-money-to-be-stable a little cool. City Opera was bootstrapping it.

Its appeal combined start-up rhetoric with an argument for the public good.

… But can you really raise money for an opera company through a Kickstarter, though?

The answer — at least for this large an amount, in this city — appears to be no. With 12 hours to go, City Opera has raised only $286,440 from its Kickstarter, more than $700,000 short of its goal. The company might even announce bankruptcy proceedings before the goal ends. The Kickstarter failed to attract the major attention that it needed to “be a thing”; the young, solvent donors associated with Kickstarter did not toss sufficient funds at the company.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.