Friday, June 26, 2009

United Arts Board Meeting

Yesterday the United Arts Board of Trustees voted to decide if United Arts would help in an attempt to keep Opera alive in Orlando. The Orlando Opera company filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy on April 24th, and the Orlando Philharmonic has offered to help produce limited staged productions where opera singers could perform before the Philharmonic. This endeavor would cost an additional $200,000 and United Arts is offering to help. Over a thousand people had subscribed for Opera season tickets and they were shocked that they could not get their money back when the Opera went bankrupt. Of the $200,000, being invested by United Arts, $50,000 will be used for vouchers to allow the subscribers to attend the Enzian Theater's "Opera on Film Series", and OPO's semi-staged concert Operas.
I had heard that this meeting might get heated since some board members feel that United Arts should only support existing organizations and since the Opera is bankrupt it no longer exists. It was pointed out that all arts organizations are struggling in the present financial climate and the money might be better put to use if it helped keep existing organizations afloat.
The board meeting was actually quite civil. Both sides stated their causes and then a vote was taken by a raise of hands. In the midst of the heated discussion, trumpeting Elephant calls could be heard emanating from the next room in the Shakespeare Theater. This rather surreal moment tended to lighten the mood among the board members. In a final plea, Mark Hagel summed up all the arguments with a simple question, "Do we want Opera in Orlando?" The votes tallied were 20 votes for helping produce limited stage Opera productions, and 3 votes against. With this vote an executive committee will further look into the particulars of the plan and by August 15th the plan will either be a go or no-go. Orlando was once able to boast that it was the only city in Florida with the "big 3" professional companies for Opera, Ballet and a Symphony. Today a crippled Opera continues to tread water.


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