Increased Ticket Sales, Fundraising Support, and Endowment Growth Contribute to Strong Close to Opera Theatre’s 2014 Fiscal Year
OTSL ends its 39th fiscal year with record $5.3 million in annual fundraising; new donors contribute in record numbers, increasing by 203%
St. Louis, MO, November 4, 2014 – Continuing its 39-year history of economic strength, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis announces significant milestones at the close of the 2014 fiscal year, which ended on September 30. Complete details will be announced when the company publishes its annual audited financial statements in February. In the meantime, unaudited results indicate success for Opera Theatre as it works to achieve its strategic directives — increasing civic impact, broadening and diversifying its audience, and expanding its base of support.
Annual fundraising efforts totaled nearly $5.3 million, 4% above the FY14 budgeted goal. This rise can be traced primarily to donor support in response to a $1 million challenge grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which requires Opera Theatre to raise $1.5 million in new and increased gifts before the end of FY15 to secure the Foundation’s grant.
Opera Theatre’s strategic plan includes a focus on expanding contributed revenue to ensure continued fiscal strength, and the ongoing collaboration of the board of directors and staff helped the company achieve strong results. The number of new donor households increased by 203% compared to the prior year and brought the total number of donor households to 1,026, the highest point in five years. Donor renewal rates were also at the highest point in five years, with 82% of households renewing their support in FY14. In addition, Opera Theatre increased its number of corporate donors by 42% from FY13 to FY14.
Major grants and gifts to support the commission, development, and production of Opera Theatre’s world premiere opera “27” were also a significant factor in the increase. The production was commissioned as part of Opera Theatre’s New Works, Bold Voices series, a three-year cycle of world premiere operas by American composers.
Coinciding with this increase in annual fundraising, OTSL’s endowment reached a new record high, with $27.3 million in invested funds as of September 30. Stewardship of the fund as well as new endowment fundraising have enabled the endowment portfolio to increase by 65% since the start of FY09, when general director Timothy O’Leary and board chairman Spencer Burke began their tenures. Opera Theatre has never accumulated a deficit in its 39-year history, and is now working to secure additional support to ensure the success of its 40th season.
Additional factors can be attributed to Opera Theatre’s overall financial strength at the close of the fiscal year:
- - The end of the 2014 fiscal year also marked OTSL’s September 30 early renewal deadline for 2015 season subscriptions. The first wave of the campaign generated the largest number of early renewing subscriptions in Opera Theatre’s history.
- - The Wells Fargo Advisors 2014 Festival Season saw an 89.2% subscription renewal rate, a 5.4% rise in box office revenue to $1.8 million, and subscription revenue and attendance increase by 8.4%.
- - 2014 marks the second full year of OTSL’s Engagement and Inclusion Task Force. The group was created to encourage participation and involvement across the St. Louis region, building an inclusive audience for opera that better reflects the rich diversity of the St. Louis community. In partnership with many partner organizations, the Task Force has supported a range of events in 2014 that continue to build new and diverse audiences for opera, including community tours from artists such as director/designer Isaac Mizrahi, composer Ricky Ian Gordan, and librettist Royce Vavrek, a panel on women of faith with Kelly Kaduce and Sister Mary Antona Ebo, OTSL’s first ever Spring Sing! community chorus, and the recent #WithNormandy concert.
- - Opera Theatre’s increasingly popular Young Friends program (open to attendees 45 and under) has seen its subscribership grow 93% over the past two years, and family audience attendance grew 65% from the 2013 season.
- - Additionally, two of OTSL’s major fundraising events, the Spring Gala and the annual Holiday Celebration, exceeded their net fundraising goals for the second year in a row.
- - Opera Theatre also received an exceptional level of national, international, and local press during its 2014 season, including three articles in The Washington Post, two articles in The Los Angeles Times, the cover story of Opera News magazine, and reviews from The Wall Street Journal,Financial Times (London) the Chicago Tribune, and the Denver Post. Features also came from NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and U.S. Airways Magazine.