New York City Opera Files for Bankruptcy
A report published by Bloomberg midnight Monday night said the NYCO was expected to file for bankruptcy Tuesday. The group had already given itself an end-of-September deadline for a dramatic fund-raising campaign that failed to come close to its short-term goal of $7 million.
TheStreet wrote last week that this move appeared inevitable and about the role the NYCO has filled over its 70-year period.
A white knight benefactor could have charged in to save the group. But billionaire, Bloomberg Philanthropies founder and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in remarks reported in the New York Times Monday, succinctly dashed those hopes by voicing what many had been thinking.
"The business model doesn't seem to be working," Bloomberg said.
As mayor, Bloomberg noted he had had to make cuts in grants to arts institutions in favor of other priorities, including education. Regarding the NYCO's need for private contributions, he said, "My foundation's made up for some of it, but we have lots of other things to do, too, and we can't just do it ourselves,'' he said. The New York Times article estimated that Bloomberg's foundation gives more than $500,000 and less than $1 million to the NYCO annually. The opera company itself told the New York Times that Bloomberg's foundation had helped them gather other contributions as well.
The NYCO had previously announced it needed $7 million to complete its 2013-2014 season and would need an additional $13 million dollars by the end of the year to program its next season.
In making a public plea for funds, the NYCO launched a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of raising $1 million in smaller donations in a 22-day drive. That drive fell short, raising only a little more than $300,000. As Bloomberg's remarks illustrate, that lack of grassroots support, together with longstanding budget woes and a shortage of major benefactors, has caused some to write off the group as a loss.