Seattle Opera Makes Major Layoffs To Offset Difficult Economic Situation

By David Salazar

It has been a rough few weeks for the opera world. Last week the Fresno Grand Opera filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This week has already seen the gutting of the National Endowment for the Arts and now, Seattle Opera has made some major budget cuts brought about by questionable fiscal management.

According to the Seattle Times, the company is cutting six full-time positions and closing the Renton Scene Shop. The Scene shop built sets for opera and other theater companies, including the Washington National Opera.

The reason for the reduction comes down to the company having spent over $2-3 million more per year than the annual revenue. That, in turn, forced the company to repeatedly dig into its financial reserves to remain even. Unfortunately, the reserves have dried up and the company is now forced to make some radical changes to survive.

In addition to the layoffs, the company is streamlining its music operations by combining casting, artistic management and oversight of the chorus and orchestra into one area of the company. According to the report, the company previously had separate artistic and music departments.

Other options include looking for more co-productions to share expenses on new productions.