Seattle Opera trims staff and closes scene shop to cut costs

Posted on: March 17, 2017

“In an effort to stabilize its fiscal health, Seattle Opera has eliminated six full-time staff positions and decided to close its scene shop in Renton,” writes Brendan Kiley in Wednesday’s (3/15) Seattle Times. “The opera’s operating expenses, spokesperson Kristina Murti wrote by email, ‘have been $2-$3 million higher than annual revenue for more than a decade.’ Its budget for the fiscal year of 2017 is $22.5 million. To keep the opera financially sustainable, Murti wrote, ‘we conducted a deep dive into our expenses’ and decided to restructure the company with layoffs, close the Renton scene shop and streamline its ‘music operations’ by combining casting, artist management and oversight of the chorus and the orchestra ‘into one area of the company.’ … She added, ‘most American opera companies do not operate their own scene shops.’ … Seattle Opera is also exploring the idea of increasing its number of co-productions…. The opera now employs more than 600 people and, over the past year, has declined to fill nine jobs when they became available (most of those … in the marketing and fundraising departments). … ‘During the past several years,’ [Murti] wrote, ‘we have grown our donor base substantially, but it hasn’t made up for the gap between expenses and revenue.’ ”

Posted March 17, 2017