Houston Grand Opera Announces Major Donation Courtesy of Sarah & Ernest Butler

By David Salazar

The Houston Grand Opera has announced that Sarah and Ernest Butler created a new fund within the HGO Endowment for $22 million.

Per an official press statement, this is the largest philanthropical investment in the company’s 68-year history. Moreover, the company will rename its training program the Sarah and Ernest Butler Houston Grand Opera Studio.

The announcement was made during the Concert of Arias on Feb. 3, 2023.

The Butlers, both Texas natives, have been major supporters of the company over the years, making a $1 million donation to the company in 2020 to create HGO Digital, the Sarah and Ernest Butler Performance Series.

“Sarah and I have been Houston Grand Opera subscribers for 35 years, since the company’s first season in the Wortham Theater Center,” said Ernest Butler in the official press statement. “And we’ve been attending performances at HGO much longer. The two of us have followed the HGO Studio since its inception, watching its graduates go on to successful careers in opera. We’ve decided to create a new fund within the HGO Endowment that supports the program, because we’ve seen the endowment’s careful fiscal management firsthand. We have tremendous confidence in HGO and want to help this great company expand its mission and its reach, throughout our region and beyond.”

“The arts are a reflection of who we are,” added Sarah Butler. “For our society to be healthy, we must invest in art and culture, which is critical to the wellbeing of humanity. With our investment in HGO’s future, Ernest and I want to support the organization through the next century, so that everyone in our part of the world has access to the beauty of grand opera. This gift is a strategic one, because the artistic excellence at HGO supports and elevates cultural endeavors both within, and far beyond, Houston.”

Ernest Butler is a retired otolaryngologist who founded the Austin Ear Nose and Throat Clinic and Acoustic Systems. Sara Butler is a retired educator and has been on the Ballet Austin Board of Directors for almost 20 years.