San Diego Opera Workers Ask City Council To Help Save Institution
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
A grassroots movement to save the San Diego Opera staged its own performance at City Hall on Tuesday.
During an open public comment period of a City Council meeting, about 50 employees of the San Diego Opera called on the City Council to help them save the 49-year-old institution.
The group calls itself the “White Knight Committee,” and includes staff from the opera’s administrative office, seasonal employees, vendors, supporters and union representatives.
The opera's board of directors announced last month that it would shut down, citing an untenable financial condition. The move was met with opposition from employees and the public.
"There are nearly 50 full-time staff members, along with about 350 local musicians, singers and other tradespeople who depend on five months of work that they have during our opera season," said Nicolas Reveles, the organization's director of education.
He said the opera has a nearly $7 million impact on the area’s economy. The San Diego Symphony alone earned $1.4 million in revenue during the recently completed opera season, and the San Diego Civic Theatre made $800,000, he said.
Reveles also said the opera has provided services for 162,000 students during the past five years, and those programs are also in jeopardy.
"I respectfully ask the San Diego City Council to resolve to support this grassroots San Diego Opera effort to save us, to save our beloved company, for the San Diego community," Reveles said. "We need our arts to make this city great."
Following his comments, the members of the opera chorus and the White Knight Committee serenaded the city politicians in hopes of garnering their support.
Carlos Cota, the business representative for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 122, said several board members are now working to try to save the opera. He said the shutdown makes no sense.
"We're going to do everything in our power to overturn this and try to keep the opera alive in San Diego for future generations," Cota said.
City Council applauded the short musical interlude, but didn’t respond to the committee’s request to support saving the opera.
Any decisions on the opera’s future must be decided by their board of directors, which postponed the closure for two weeks after the final curtain comes down Sunday on “Don Quixote.”
The White Knight Committee wants the board to rescind the closure vote, and is also calling for a change in opera leadership and moving forward with a less expensive 50th anniversary season next year.
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