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Opera chief: Group won't fold

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Indianapolis Opera is staring down a $400,000 budget gap, but Executive Director John Pickett says the company isn't folding.

"We don't want to give any indication the company is going out of business at all," he said Friday morning.

The opera on Thursday said it would cancel its third production of the season, Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado," which was scheduled for March 19 and 21 at Clowes Memorial Hall. The opera is billing the move as a "postponement," saying it will schedule the same show for next season, which begins in the fall.

Ticket holders and subscribers will be offered credit for a rescheduled performance, or a refund. As a third option, the value of the tickets could be counted as an immediate, tax-deductible donation.

Cancellation of "The Mikado" will also impact Clowes, the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and various contracted singers. The show was also supposed to include participants in the opera's young artists program. Pickett said his artistic team is working to replace the young artists' performance with a smaller, low-budget show that can be staged at the Basile Opera Center, the former Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church.

Cutting "The Mikado," a $275,000 production, will save the opera about $150,000. The difference includes deposits and other expenses that cannot be recovered. Pickett said he'll be looking for other budget cuts and new donations to cover the remaining shortfall.

In the worst-case scenario, Pickett said the opera could tap the assets of its small endowment. He's also hoping for a sale of the opera's office building at 250 E. 38th St.

Indianapolis Opera had already reduced its current season from four shows to three. Then grants that were figured into the current $2.65 million budget didn't materialize or were reduced. Pickett declined to discuss details of the grants because, he said, the grant makers are still very supportive of the opera.

The budget crunch prompted the board of directors to issue a $40,000 matching gift challenge in November. The fund-raising letter that Chairman Garry Fredericksen sent out at the time said the company was in a “battle for survival.”

The campaign was successful, Pickett said, but it wasn't enough to close the budget gap.

"We have some challenges in front of us," Pickett said.

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  1. Now if he'd just stay there...

  2. Daniel - what about the many US citizens who do NOT follow what the Bible teaches? The Hindus, Jews, Muslims and others who are all American citizens entitled to all rights as Americans?? This issue has NOTHING to do with "What the Bible says..." Keep all Churches separate from State! Pence's ongoing idiocy continues to make Indiana look like a backwards, homophobic state in the eyes of our nation. Can't we move on to bigger issues - like educating our kids?

  3. 1. IBJ should link to the referenced report. We are in the age of electronic media...not sharing information is lazy. Here is a link http://www.in.gov/gov/files/Blue_Ribbon_Panel_Report_July_9_2014.pdf 2. The article should provide more clarity about the make-up of this panel. The commenters are making this item out to be partisan, it does not appear the panel is partisan. Here is a list of the panel which appears to be balanced with different SME to add different perspectives http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?view=EventDetails&eventidn=138116?formation_id=189603 3. It suggests a by-pass, I do not see where this report suggests another "loop". 4. Henry, based on your kneejerk reaction, we would be better off if you moved to another state unless your post was meant as sarcasm in which case I say Well Done. 5. The article and report actually indicates need to improve rail and port infrastructure in direct contradiction to Shayla commentary. Specifically, recommendation is to consider passenger rail projects... 6. People have a voice with their elected officials. These are suggestions and do not represent "crony capitalism", etc. The report needs to be analyzed and the legislature can decide on priorities and spending. Don't like it, then vote in a new legislature but quit artificially creating issues where there are none! People need to sift through the politics and provide constructive criticism to the process rather than making uninformed comments in a public forum based on misinformation. IBJ should work harder to correct the record in these forums when blatant errors or misrepresentations are made.

  4. Joe ... Marriage is defined in the Bible ... it is mentioned in the Bible often. Marriage is not mentioned once in the US or Indiana Constitution ...

  5. Daniel - Educate me please: what does the Bible have to do with laws? If the government wasn't in the business of marriage to begin with, then it wouldn't have to "define" marriage at all. Marriage could be left as a personal, religious, or otherwise unregulated action, with no ties to taxes, legal status, etc. Then people could marry whomever they want, and all this silliness would go away. Remember to vote Libertarian in November.

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