New York City Opera, known for 70 years as the “people’s opera” for its affordable tickets, revealed as much as $10 million in assets and debt in a bankruptcy petition it filed Thursday after years of declining income and a failed fundraiser.
The opera targeted a fundraising goal of $7 million to keep its performers on stage and its seats open. The bankruptcy will protect the organization from creditors and provide a forum for negotiating debts and possibly selling assets.
Cultural institutions and individuals who supported the opera suffered in the 2007 crisis. As the economy recovered, their donations went elsewhere, Ted Gavin, a partner at a turnaround/restructuring company based in Delaware, is referenced as saying in a Bloomberg News article.
The company last week posted an “urgent” notice on its website seeking donations to help raise $20 million, including $7 million it said it needed by Sept. 30 for the current season.
The remaining productions for this season were Johann Christian Bach’s “Endimione,” Bela Bartok’s “Bluebeard’s Castle” and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” according to the website.
The company sat out the 2008-09 season, while the New York State Theater (renamed for donor David Koch) was renovated. In late 2008 and early 2009, the board of directors used $24 million from its endowment to meet payroll and other obligations and hasn’t been able to repay it, according to the filing.
City Opera’s endowment totaled $5.02 million for fiscal year 2012, down from $9 million a year earlier and $55 million several years ago, according to the filing. The endowment lost $14 million during the stock market decline, the company said in the filing.