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Ausrine Stundyte as Cio-Cio-San, Elizabeth Janes as Butterfly’s child and Sarah Larsen as Suzuki in Seattle Opera's production of Puccini's Madama Butterfly. Photo by Elise Bakketun.
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Original Article:
Taxing Foreign Artists
Robyn Guilliams, FTM Arts Law attorney, Larry Bomback, Director of Finance, OPERA America, Amy Fitterer, Director of Government Affairs, OPERA America , Robyn Guilliams, FTM Arts Law attorney, Larry Bomback, Director of Finance, OPERA America, Amy Fitterer, Director of Government Affairs, OPERA America
Original Content
Visiting artists bring a sometimes unique perspective to your stage, and equally unique issues to your tax returns. Pretty much anyone who performs in the US gets taxed, but the simplicity ends there. What compensation is subject to withholding? Can artists without a Social Security Number be paid? Answers to those questions, and any others you may have particular to your situation, in this discussion with FTM Arts Law attorney and tax-withholding expert Robyn Guilliams, co-author of Artists From Abroad.

Related Article(s):
Arts Advocacy: Four Easy Steps
Haley Gordon, Director of Government Affairs, OPERA America ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
Hundreds of arts advocates traveled to Washington, D.C. at the end of March to lobby Congress to support federal policies that would benefit the arts. As part of Arts Advocacy Day 2008, OPERA America members expressed their concerns in House and Senate offices about the President’s FY09 budget request, which proposes significant cuts to arts and cultural programs. They also described the multitude of issues that affect the opera field — from federal funding and visa processing for foreign guests artists to international cultural exchange and charitable giving incentives.
Governance and the Artistic Product
Kelley Rourke ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
Every opera production is a complex machine comprising many moving, delicate and unpredictable parts, so planning a successful opera season is a piece of almost impossibly sophisticated engineering. In addition to encyclopedic knowledge of operatic repertoire and creative and performing artists, season planning requires technical and financial savvy, intimate acquaintance with company strengths and weaknesses, and an understanding of what excites audience members — current and prospective.
Auditions: Fast and Frequent or Slow and Selective?
Diana Hossack ,
Audition Connection1/1/1900
Our cultural desire for instant gratification, along with the belief that more is better, can affect singers’ expectations and behaviors related to auditioning. Yes, audition information can be procured while sitting on your sofa and there are enough auditions that take place in New York in the fall and winter to feel like you are auditioning in bulk. However, by taking the time to lay thorough groundwork for the upcoming audition season, you can enhance your chances for success.
Recognizing Opera`s Trustee Leaders
Kelley Rourke ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
Music, rhetoric, visual art — the experimental art form conjured by a group of Italian scholars over 400 years ago has been a collaborative endeavor from the beginning. Today, it takes a staggering number of personnel to make an opera production truly sing: from sopranos to violists, riggers to wigmakers. The ongoing success of an opera company also relies on the collective efforts of individuals devoted to fundraising, marketing, financial management and other crucial administrative tasks. The volunteer leadership of an opera company — its board of trustees — plays a vital role in the successful management of a company’s operations.
Contract Basics: Sign Before You Sing
Elizabeth R. Koepcke ,
Voices1/1/1900
As a professional vocalist you need to be a businessperson as well as an artist. It pays literally—for you to be knowledgeable about basic contract principles and to be comfortable with the process of contract negotiation. Contracts don’t have to be scary, and singers need not associate negotiations with the onset of unpleasant physical symptoms. Knowledge is an excellent alternative to antacids.
An American in France: Nice Work If You Can Get It
Michael Rice ,
Voices1/1/1900
My story is an old one: The young, hungry singer in the right place at the right time. My Franco adventure began while I was covering in a New York City Opera production directed by the artistic director of Opéra de Nice. He pulled me aside one day after a cover rehearsal (which he attended — a first for me) and asked me what kind of repertoire I sang. I passed my biography on to him, and two days later he offered me the role of Buonafede in Haydn’s comic romp, Il mondo della luna. It’s safe to say it was the easiest audition I ever had, not having one at all! In the future I plan on getting all my jobs like that, though I’m not sure most companies will agree.
The Philadelphia Project: Audience Development in a Lively Opera Ecology
Staff ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
An array of cultural attractions is part of the appeal of living in a major metropolitan area. City dwellers typically have their choice of several theater companies, as well as multiple museums and galleries. Until recently, however, most cities have been served by a single opera company. This is beginning to change: Across the country, the lone local opera provider increasingly has company. New opera companies are springing up on a regular basis, allowing the opera-hungry — or the opera-curious — new ways to encounter the art form, often sharply differentiated from those offered by the establishment company.
Summer Festivals: Finding a Way to Shine During the Dark Months
Kelley Rourke ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
Summer opera festivals have a special allure for the cultural tourist — people travel hundreds, even thousands, of miles to see three or four performances in as many days. While an out-of-town audience is a source of justifiable pride, local support remains essential. With their brief mainstage seasons — eight weeks at most — how do these companies remain part of the fabric of the community during the long "dark" months?
The Impact of a Weak Economy on the American Singer
James Busterund ,
Voices1/1/1900
In March of 2000, the United States stock market reached the pinnacle of an unprecedented 18-year bull market. The market had experienced a once-in-a-century buying mania that had been fueled by the euphoria over a “new economy” and business opportunities related to the Internet. Many individuals and businesses prospered. Opera companies and orchestras were no exception. Charitable giving surged resulting in expanded concert and opera seasons and burgeoning payrolls.
Time Management
Carol Kirkpatrick ,
Voices1/1/1900
Three of the most important resources in life are TIME, ENERGY, AND MONEY. Energy and money can be regenerated, but time cannot; therefore, it is the most precious commodity there is. This minute, hour, day, month, year can never be duplicated again. Learning to be in the moment will help you to use your time more efficiently. Often, finding the time to practice or study music seems impossible, especially when you hold a fulltime job, or are going to school full time. It is difficult, but it can be done.
Prepping for the New 990
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations, OPERA America ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
The IRS Form 990, "Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax," is submitted by tax-exempt and nonprofit organizations to the Internal Revenue Service on an annual basis. The 990 is used by government agencies and charity watchdog groups to prevent organizations from abusing their tax-exempt status. The IRS also provides Web sites such as Guidestar.org with copies of 990s; often this is the only way such information is made available since many tax-exempt organizations do not otherwise publish their audited financials.
Highlights from The 2006 Annual Field Report
Patricia Egan and Nancy Sasser ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
If you’ve looked at the financial statements and box office reports of your opera company over the last few years, you’ve probably seen a mix of good news and bad news, as the results of OPERA America’s annual Professional Opera Survey (POS) confirm.
Highlights from the 2007 Annual Field Report
Larry Bomback and Anthony Cekay ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
OPERA America's Annual Field Report (AFR) is based on the Professional Opera Survey (POS) that member opera companies complete each year, submitting details of their annual financial, performance and attendance activity. The 2007 AFR covers the fiscal year that ended during calendar year 2007, and includes data reaching back to 2003, summarizing key facts and trends in the United States and Canada.
Assessing Your Career: Defining and Moving Beyond Plateaus
Staff ,
Voices1/1/1900
Emily Golden, Mezzo-soprano
Neither personal nor vocal development is static, so from time to time one has to take stock of short- and long-term goals. Some roles that I sang as a beginner, for example, are no longer appropriate to my voice and/or personality. This has prompted me to explore heavier roles, such as Eboli and Amneris, which suddenly seem to "fit." This simultaneously recharges my own creativity and encourages others to maintain interest in my work. The renewed musical exploration that comes with study is a welcome contrast to the over-familiarity of signature roles. For me, Carmen is a case in point: With over 250 performances under my belt, I need to guard against falling into a rut; similarly, those who have seen me in this role, no matter how many years ago, might erroneously believe they know the sum of my work. Performers and spectators alike need to guard against stasis, so a plateau of any kind should serve more as a springboard than a stopping place.

OPERA America's Action-Oriented Think Tanks
Kelley Rourke ,
Opera America Magazine1/1/1900
OPERA America's Conference is the largest and most visible annual gathering of the opera community — but it is not the only time opera stakeholders come together. Throughout the year, OPERA America convenes meetings of industry leaders around specific topics. Although the discussions vary in size, scope and regularity, they share a common commitment — a commitment to action. Participants not only discuss challenges, they identify steps they can take, from the incremental to the profound, to advance the field.
Mezzo-Soprano
Handel, George Frideric: Alcina
Act 2: Recitative and Aria, “Disgombra il mio pensiero … Mi lusinga il dolce affetto” (Ruggiero)

Roger Pines, Dramaturg, Lyric Opera of Chicago ,
Aria Talk10/1/2005
Act 2: Recitative and Aria, “Disgombra il mio pensiero … Mi lusinga il dolce affetto” (Ruggiero)
What I Did This Summer (What Did I Do This Summer?): Your Guide to Staying Productive During the Summer
Anne Choe, Artistic Services Manager, OPERA America ,
ArtistLink7/10/2007
It is the middle of July. If many of you are like me, that statement strikes a bit of despair and wonderment in your hearts and minds. "The summer is half over! What happened to all my grand plans for the summer?" I had some pretty lofty goals for myself including losing 10 pounds (always at the top of my list), boning up on my knowledge of operatic repertoire, advancing my Italian and French skills, and breaking 90 in my golf game. Unfortunately, my better judgment fails me and I opt for fried goodness rather than salad, Knocked Up rather than Fidelio, and going for the green rather than laying-up. But it's not too late! I can still achieve the things that I'd like to by setting realistic goals, creating an advanced plan, and defining the steps needed to achieve the goals I've set for myself.
Weathering the Economic Crisis
Stephanie Golden ,
EducationLink3/16/2009
With the fundraising climate at its worst since 1998 (according to a December 2008 report by Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy), how can community arts education (CAE) organizations best meet the challenges of the economic downturn?
Marketing and Media
Staff Patricia Kiernan Johnson, OPERA America, Sean Bickerton, Kulture Shock Media; Kristin Cowdin, Guy Barzilay Artists;
Making Connections3/24/2009
You have worked hard to perfect your craft, but are your promotional materials doing you justice? This session will cover:
  • Headshots and other photos
  • Creating engaging Web sites
  • Managing your Web image
Fundraising 101
Staff , Dianne Debicella, Fractured Atlas
Making Connections5/20/2009
Most artists will likely have to raise funds during their careers, whether it is to produce a piece, attend a training program or simply to supplement income. Our fundraising expert will cover:
  • Identifying sources of income
  • Creating a fundraising strategy
  • “The ask”
A Legacy of Leadership
Kelley Rourke ,
Opera America Magazine7/1/2009
Each year, OPERA America honors leaders celebrating their 10- and 25-year anniversaries with an opera company. The recipients of this year's service awards hail from companies from across North America whose annual budgets range in size from less than $1 million to more than $25 million. Some of the companies dominate the opera scene in their cities, while others are part of a vibrant local opera ecology.

Running an opera company is challenging in the best of times, and today's uncertain economy makes it extraordinarily difficult to plan the seasons ahead. But with hard-won wisdom gained from many years of experience, these artistic and general directors strike a tone of cautious optimism as they share their learning and confirm their commitment to quality and creativity.
Creative Programming in Hard Times
Thomas May ,
Opera America Magazine7/1/2009
The majority of contemporary American opera companies sprang up after the Great Depression — which means they're now confronting the most severe economic downturn in their existence. And the performing arts are doubly vulnerable. Not only is institutional funding at risk: audiences, their very lifeblood, have also had to become more cautious about opening their wallets.
Music! Words! Opera! Celebrates 20 Years
Clifford Brooks, Roger Ames ,
Opera America Magazine9/1/2009
It all began about 1980, when Marthalie Furber, newly-appointed education director of OPERA America, conducted an environmental scan to discern what was going on in opera education throughout the country. Many of us already involved in company education departments knew of "create an opera" projects in different opera companies. Exciting things were happening in such locales as the Berkshires, San Diego, Tulsa and Tucson. Carroll Reinhart, a pioneer in the field of music education, had observed the work of a colleague in San Diego and began building from a number of creative processes to develop a methodology for children to create their own pieces of musical theater. He shared this with several opera professionals, including Henry Holt. Not long afterward, he was contacted by Marthalie Furber. The discussions began in earnest.
U.S. Main Season Box Office Revenue Rises 11% over Five-Year Period; Ticket Gap Widens
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations, OPERA America ,
Original Content10/7/2009
Given the state of the economy, it is not surprising that the most common question asked of OPERA America staff members nowadays is some variant on: “How is the field doing?” This brief article seeks to clarify some points using data extracted from the most recent Annual Field Report, covering fiscal years 2004 through 2008.

Through the Professional Opera Survey, OPERA America has collected extensive financial and operational data on professional companies dating back more than two decades. Companies that have participated in five consecutive annual surveys comprise the Constant Sample Groups of the Annual Field Report. In the 2008 Annual Field Report, there were 63 professional companies (excluding the Metropolitan Opera) in the U.S. Constant Sample Group and 11 professional companies in the Canadian Constant Sample Group. These numbers make up approximately 55% of OPERA America professional company membership, but using a constant sample group rather than the entire field universe (which changes every year) allows for a more reliable and accurate data analysis.
Check-Up: Health-Care Reform Proposals and the Opera Field
Staff Amy Fitterer, Patricia Read, Derek Davis, David Bennett
Original Content10/13/2009
OPERA America Webinar Series
Virtual Meeting Attendance: Not Present, But Still Here
BoardSource ,
Original Content10/13/2009

In an ideal board meeting, all members are present and engaged in a structured and vigorous debate of the issues on the agenda. The chair leads the discussion, fine-tuned to the overall mood of the board, and ensures everyone's participation. During planned breaks, chatter fills the boardroom, and when the meeting is over, some members hurry out with their carry-ons in tow while others linger to talk to the chief executive and their board colleagues.

In reality, few board meetings are that perfect. For example, at times, even the most committed members are not able to attend every meeting. This is unfortunate because not only do they miss the meeting but the rest of the board misses their contribution.
Recent Trends in Program Coverage, Artistic Expenses and Individual Giving
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations, OPERA America ,
Original Content10/29/2009
Over the past 10 years, professional opera company budgets in the U.S. grew annually, on average, at a rate that was about two to two-and-a-half times the U.S. consumer price index (CPI). During consultations with board members and general directors, OPERA America President and CEO Marc A. Scorca referred to this percentage as the Opera Price Index (OPI). Core artistic expenses (the sum of artistic personnel, technical/production personnel and production costs) are an important element of this "opera-flation."
Board Members and Personal Contributions
BoardSource ,
Original Content11/5/2009
Many boards spend considerable time defining the board's role in securing adequate resources for the organization. Personal financial contribution should be an essential part of that discussion. Each board should determine its own personal giving policy. For fundraising boards, the target should be to reach 100 percent board member participation.

Why should board members give?
Board members of most charitable organizations are expected to participate in fundraising. The board is responsible for providing a sound financial basis for the organization and by personally contributing, a board member recognizes this responsibility and demonstrates a commitment. A fundraising appeal is particularly convincing if a board member uses him or herself as an exemplary donor. Many foundations only contribute to organizations where every board member is a contributor. And surveys show that nearly 90 percent of American households contribute to charities. Each board member should designate his or her own organization as one of the main recipients of his or her generosity.
How Old Is Mozart?
James P. Gelatt ,
Original Content11/6/2009
How old is your organization? I don't mean, when was it founded? In the minds of your donors, or your board, or your staff, how old is it? Is it in its maturity — having gotten past the pangs of youth? Is it still in its awkward teenage years?

Or is it — frankly — over the hill?

For nonprofits, image is everything. If our donors and others who invest in us see us as still growing, or in maturity, they are more likely to support us. If they see as doddering, they feel it's time for them to move on.
Strategic Planning for Independent Artists
Staff , Darren K. Woods, general director, Fort Worth Opera
Making Connections12/2/2009
In order to be successful as an independent artist, one must treat one's work as a small business. This session, led by Fort Worth Opera General Director Darren K. Woods, will give artists the tools needed to create business plans and reach professional goals in the opera field.
Personnel Reflections
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations, OPERA America ,
Original Content12/7/2009
In response to member requests for more data assessment, OPERA America has embarked on a series of brief analyses derived from the Professional Opera Survey that companies complete each year.

The Surveys reveal that while total budgets among a constant sample group of U.S. Companies rose by 47% since the start of the new millennium, expenses allocated to support staff responsible for revenue generation have increased even faster. Marketing personnel costs have risen 82% since FY2000, and development personnel costs have risen 70% over that same time. (Looking at only the percentage gains does not tell the whole story, since technical and production personnel costs increase in one year the amount that marketing personnel costs rise over a decade.)
Secrets of the Charismatic Organization
Shirley Sagawa ,
Original Content12/7/2009
Where some nonprofits are chronically underfunded, others can raise hundreds of thousands of dollars at a single event. Their boards are full of energetic, knowledgeable and connected people. They have grown steadily over the last decade. They are the go-to groups on their issues, the places to work, the leaders in their fields.

The reason for the success of these nonprofits is not charismatic leadership. Not every charismatic leader runs a successful organization, and not every successful organization has a charismatic leader. The secret is far simpler — and within the reach of any organization.
Enjoy Responsibly: Alcohol and Food Policies
Carolyn Conway, Thomas Morris, Liz Kellogg, Larry Bomback , Larry Bomback, Carolyn Conway, Thomas Morris, Liz Kellogg
Original Content12/9/2009
Every opera company hosts galas and other events where food and alcohol are an expected component. But companies must balance the offerings with social responsibility, to ensure their own safety and that of their employees and patrons. Though laws vary from state to state, the problems are often uniform and similar, like keeping consumption safe and legal. How do you ensure a successful event while still exercising the necessary controls? Join DiMento & Sullivan Attorney Carolyn Conway, The Santa Fe Opera’s administrative director, Thomas Morris, and human resources director Liz Kellogg for a frank discussion of this often-neglected topic.
Good Habits Underpin Great Fundraising Boards
Jerold Panas ,
Original Content1/6/2010
In this interview, Jerold Panas discusses the traits of successful fundraising boards.

What led you to the topic of fundraising habits?

I work with organizations all over the country, of all sizes, of all types. From YMCAs to colleges to hospitals — and many in between. The budgets range from $1 million a year to $2.6 billion.

And what I've noticed is a common thread woven through each. When an organization is vital, providing outstanding service, and balancing its budget — I find a board that practices very specific habits. Particularly fundraising habits.

How many boards would you say you've worked with?

Keep in mind, I've been at this a long time! I suppose in my 40 years of consulting, I've actively worked with somewhere between 300 to 400 boards.

And roughly how many have had a majority of the habits you write about?

Most boards practice a good number of them. Only a few can claim them all. One thing if for sure — it's easy to spot boards that don't have these habits. They stumble along.
Highlights of the 2008 Annual Field Report
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations, OPERA America ,
Original Content1/13/2010
OPERA America’s Annual Field Report (AFR) is based on the Professional Opera Survey, which member companies complete each year by submitting details of their annual financial, performance and attendance activity. Formerly a stand-alone document, the 2008 Annual Field Report was included within OPERA America’s new Year in Review publication, released this past fall. Individual members can access a full-color PDF of the Year in Review by clicking here.

Forty-two of the 74 companies in the Constant Sample Group (CSG) reported a surplus for the year. In FY08, the median revenue and expense among the 74 companies was nearly $2.6 million, while the average company budget size was over $7.2 million. Total individual contributions — including unrestricted, temporarily and permanently restricted — grew 12% from 2007 to 2008.

Total North American productions rose to their highest levels in FY08 compared with the previous four seasons. However, companies, on average, reported a 4% year-over-year decrease in total seats available and a 2.5% year-over-year decline in total attendance.
Tax Issues for Artists
Larry Bomback, director of finance and operations, OPERA America, Anne Adamowsky, accountant, Trudy C. Durant and Associates
Making Connections1/27/2010
Basic tax preparation can be a tricky endeavor. Add self-employment, itemized deductions and quarterly filing to the mix, and overwhelming does not begin to describe the process. Learn from a panel of experienced taxpayers and certified professionals how to best approach finance as an independent artist.
Cultural Data Project Explained
Larry Bomback, Jessica Cahail , Larry Bomback, Jessica Cahail
Original Content1/29/2010
OPERA America and the Cultural Data Project (CDP) have teamed up to create an online version of the Professional Opera Survey (POS). Beginning in January 2010, OPERA America member organizations will now complete the CDP’s standardized online form for arts and cultural organizations, followed by several sections of opera-specific questions, developed by OPERA America. This powerful online management tool will streamline the annual data collection process and provide all statistics for future Professional Opera Survey Reports. OPERA America member organizations can use the CDP to produce a variety of instantaneously-generated reports designed to help increase management capacity, identify strengths and challenges, and inform decision-making. Join Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations at OPERA America, and Jessica Cahail, Senior Associate at the Cultural Data Project, for an in-depth tour of this new paperless survey and benchmarking tool.
Art and Fame: A Perspective of an Artist as a Young Man
Robert Hansen, executive director, National Opera Association ,
Original Content2/4/2010
When I was something less than two years old, certainly too young to have any real memory of it, I was photographed sitting in the middle of the dining room table wearing nothing but an over-sized and very glamorous hat. I don’t think the photo was posed: I’m sure I donned that hat myself, and from the expression on my face, I’m equally sure I expected to be noticed.

That must have been the earliest expression of my fantasy of fame and celebrity. I began my stage career at the age of five as the little prince in The King and I who crawls between the king’s legs. I relished that moment: the most special of all those child actors who comprised the royal family. Without belaboring the point, I continued performing all through my school years. I was sought after. I sang and performed everywhere and all the time, turning up as a regular in community and school projects, and even one professional program. One kind reviewer called me “everybody’s tenor” and a local philanthropist and arts supporter praised my “multi-faceted talents.” These are words of praise and encouragement that resonate in the formative years. I took the affirmation as a promise of future success. I watched the Academy Awards and Tony shows religiously, fantasizing about the day I would cross the stage to claim my own recognition.
History of the Cultural Data Project / Professional Opera Survey Collaboration
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance & Operations, OPERA America ,
Original Content2/10/2010
In August 2008, OPERA America staff met with Marian Godfrey and Neville Vakharia of Pew Charitable Trusts to discuss the possibility of OPERA America integrating its Professional Opera Survey (POS) with the Cultural Data Project (CDP). OPERA America had already been planning to turn the Professional Opera Survey into an online form, and consultants Cool Spring Analytics had referred OPERA America to CDP to see if there was mutual benefit. After seeing a demonstration of how the CDP collects information and generates useful reports instantaneously, OPERA America staff left the meeting impressed and excited about a potential collaboration.

OPERA America staff convened a small committee of finance network representatives to gauge their interest in and enthusiasm for such a collaboration. The committee included a few representatives from companies in Pennsylvania and California, where CDP had already established a presence in the state, and they were particularly supportive of a joint form. Other representatives, including those from New York City Opera and Boston Lyric Opera, were already aware that CDP would soon have a presence in their states and saw the inevitability, if not the necessity, of an integrated data collection system.
Planned Giving Strategies
Larry Bomback, Thomas Bonhag, Robert Heuer , Larry Bomback, Thomas Bonhag, Robert Heuer
Original Content2/16/2010
A common concern among donors is how assets will be distributed when they can no longer oversee the process. As a donor, how can you best invest money to reap the benefits during your life, but still ensure a lasting and positive impact? As a development director, how do you broach this delicate subject well-informed and effectively? This session, featuring Thomas Bonhag, a Certified Financial Planner from National Madison Group and a member of the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning, will help guide you through the complex financial instruments available, and look at investing via life insurance policies. Robert Heuer, general director of Florida Grand Opera, will also participate.
Nonprofits and Copyrights: What You Need to Know
Kate Spelman, attorney, Cobalt LLP ,
Original Content2/23/2010
There are two things to worry about with copyrights: protecting original material that your organization has created, and making sure that your organization isn't improperly using material that someone else owns. Blue Avocado asked copyright attorney Kate Spelman to help with these issues, and she generously gave all her expertise and time.

Kate Spelman is an attorney at Cobalt LLP in Berkeley, CA, with a national and international practice in copyright law. She has worked for Fortune 500 companies, as well as many nonprofits. She is a board member of the American Intellectual Property Law Education Foundation.
Ten Ways to Get Your Students to Use the OPERA America Web Site and Love it
Laura Lee Everett, University of Maryland Opera Studio ,
Original Content3/3/2010
In working with both the Technical/Production and Singer Training Forums, I was lucky enough to be taken on a “virtual tour” of the newly updated OPERA America Web site. Twice. The second time around, I was able to take note of the moments where my colleagues’ attention seemed to wander and asked, “What do I need to point up to get everyone engaged when I take this information back to school?” Here are 10 easy ways to get your students, staff and faculty to utilize the great resources on the OPERA America Web site.
Multimedia Resources on OPERA America's Web Site
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance and Operations, OPERA America ,
Original Content3/3/2010
We recently posted to our Archives three webcasts. Made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, these online seminars are available to all OPERA America members free of charge:

  1. Enjoy Responsibly: Carolyn Conway, a Boston-based attorney who specializes in food and alcohol law, and Tom Morris and Liz Kellogg, of The Santa Fe Opera, lead a seminar on best practices with regard to opera company alcohol policies at company parties, donor events and performances.
    Of particular interest to administrative and human resources professionals.

  2. The Cultural Data Project Explained: Larry Bomback, OPERA America's director of finance and operations, and Jessica Cahail, senior associate at the Cultural Data Project, demonstrate how to use the new Cultural Data Project/Professional Opera Survey collaborative online form.
    Of particular interest to finance network representatives of Professional Company Members.

  3. Planned Giving: Tom Bonhag of National Madison and Bob Heuer, general director and CEO of Florida Grand Opera, share their positive and negative experiences with life insurance, charitable remainder trusts and other instruments in the estate planning toolbox.
    Of particular interest to development professionals.

These webcasts can be accessed by clicking here.
Taxing Foreign Artists
Robyn Guilliams, FTM Arts Law attorney, Larry Bomback, Director of Finance, OPERA America, Amy Fitterer, Director of Government Affairs, OPERA America , Robyn Guilliams, FTM Arts Law attorney, Larry Bomback, Director of Finance, OPERA America, Amy Fitterer, Director of Government Affairs, OPERA America
Original Content3/17/2010
Visiting artists bring a sometimes unique perspective to your stage, and equally unique issues to your tax returns. Pretty much anyone who performs in the US gets taxed, but the simplicity ends there. What compensation is subject to withholding? Can artists without a Social Security Number be paid? Answers to those questions, and any others you may have particular to your situation, in this discussion with FTM Arts Law attorney and tax-withholding expert Robyn Guilliams, co-author of Artists From Abroad.
Fundraising for Independent Artists
Beryl B. Byles, executive coach, Dianne Debicella, program director, fiscal sponsorship, Fractured Atlas; Eve Gigliotti, mezzo-soprano; Anne Ricci, general managing diva, Opera on Tap
Making Connections3/24/2010
Many, if not most, independent artists will have to raise funds during their careers - to produce a piece, attend a training program or simply to continue study. Panelists at this session will discuss their experiences, tips and strategies for cultivating donor relationships and raising funds.
Teen Audiences and Education Programs
Evan Wildstein, Manager of Education and Adult Learning Programs, OPERA America ,
Original Content4/6/2010
The most recent Opera Education Survey Report (2008) reported that opera companies are devoting less time and resources to teen audiences. This survey found that grades 6-8 represented 5% of education audiences, while grades 9-12 comprised 8%. In 2006, the survey found the same audiences were 12% and 9%, respectively. There is consensus in the field that it is a challenge to reach teen audiences for many reasons. "In general," says Fort Worth Opera Education Director Clyde Berry, "teens are the trickiest audience because you have to justify why anything you want them to know is important. If you can't make it relevant to them with real-world connections, then they're not going to 'buy' it."
Tenets to Raise Money By
Certain factors are irrefutable, says philanthropy's grandmaster

Jerold Panas ,
Original Content4/8/2010
For my book, Mega Gifts: Who Gives Them, Who Gets Them, I spoke with more than 50 men and women who had made gifts of $1 million or more. I also collected data from more than a thousand fundraising professionals.

As for me, I bring over 40 years to this magnificent business of helping others undertake consequential acts of kindness and generosity.

What I’ve discovered is that there are clearly factors and forces that motivate large gifts. The proof is irrefutable. There is more commonality in the factors than there are differences. And as extraordinarily unique as people are, the drive and consideration that propels them to a major gift is very much the same.

During the preparation of Mega Gifts I combined all I’d learned from my donors and all I could read on the subject. I mixed this generously and openly with my own feelings and attitudes.

What have evolved are 62 factors that I’m convinced guide, shape and determine the success of securing the mega gifts. Here I’ll share a random seven with you.
What Makes a Great Board?
Expert shares his insights

Andy Robinson ,
Original Content4/8/2010
Andy Robinson is the author of Great Boards for Small Groups and its companion book, Big Gifts for Small Groups. We recently sat down with Robinson to discuss various aspects of nonprofit boards.

What makes a great board, in your opinion?

Robinson: Just what you’d expect; a list of qualifications that’s easy to understand but can be hard to find. Passion for the mission, clear expectations and clearly defined roles, a sense of camaraderie and enough time to do the job right. It also helps to have a bit of flexibility, humor and humility.

So why aren’t there more great boards?

Robinson: The word “great” implies ambition, so the goal is inherently difficult. Faced with the challenge if building a strong board, most organizations move in the wrong directions: they fear that the truth will scare away prospective candidates, so they “low-ball” their expectations. Unfortunately, if people can’t meet your board requirements, you’d rather find out before you invite them — and not after they’ve joined the board.
Contributed Income Over 20-Year Period
Larry Bomback, Director of Finance & Operations, OPERA America ,
Original Content4/13/2010
OPERA America’s 20-year Professional Opera Company U.S. Constant Sample Group reported a 412% rise in total contributed income from 1988 to 2008. This amounts to annualized growth in contributions of approximately 9% each year. Not surprisingly, by 2008, the lion’s share of contributions was the result of gifts from the opera-going public. Indeed, 62% of all contributions in 2008 came from individual donors; 20 years ago, this figure was 40%.
Visa Processing for Foreign Guest Artists
Amy Fitterer, OPERA America, Jonathan Ginsburg and Andi Floyd, FTM Arts Law
Original Content4/21/2010
The opera industry has recently seen delays and problems in visa processing by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), underscoring the risk that foreign guest artists will be unable to enter the country in time for their rehearsals and performances. Join us to hear from attorney Jonathan Ginsburg as he shares timely advice and best practices for assembling petitions that will increase your chances of petition approval. Ginsburg is considered one of the top immigration attorneys in the U.S. for foreign guest artists. He co-authored the Artist From Abroad Web site, and has conducted numerous presentations and training sessions across the country on visa processing.
Building and Managing Your Network
Charles Jarden, executive director, American Opera Projects; Laura Brooks Rice, Westminster Choir College and CoOPERAtive Program; Leah Wool, mezzo-soprano ,
Making Connections5/26/2010
To be successful, opera artists must accumulate a staggering amount of knowledge and skills. Those who attempt to meet so many demands alone, particularly given the transient lifestyle of an opera career, will quickly find themselves overwhelmed. This session will cover the need for advisors, identifying appropriate team players, communicating your goals to your supporters and managing this dynamic group through your own personal and professional growth.
Professional Development: The Gift that Keeps on Giving
By José Rincón, Artistic Services Manager ,
Original Content12/1/2010
The holidays are upon us and if you are wondering what to get the singer, composer, librettist, director or designer on your gift list, put down the Hickory Farms catalog and consider giving a gift that is not only thoughtful but useful, too. If you are an artist yourself, why not spend some of the cash you get from grandma on a membership or subscription to a service organization that will help you advance your career? Here are several member- or subscription-based organizations that offer an array of programs and resources for creative artists:
Keys to a Successful Singer/Conductor Relationship
Neal Goren, Gotham Chamber Opera; Erie Mills, soprano; Steven Osgood, conductor ,
Making Connections1/26/2011
An established conductor can be a major ally in the advancement of a singer’s career, but the success of this relationship relies on trust, respect and a lot of preparation. Learn how to make the singer/conductor relationship a mutually beneficial one from this session’s panel of distinguished artists.
Ten Ways to Use the OPERA America Website Today
Jose Rincon, Artistic Services Manager, OPERA America ,
Original Content2/1/2011
OPERA America members have a wide range of services at their fingertips via the OPERA America website. Our web-based resources are designed to help both artists and administrators learn about opera as an art form and as an industry.
The Art of Entrepreneurship and Education
by Laura Day Giarolo, Manager of Education & Community Engagement, OPERA America ,
Original Content4/4/2011
Next month, leaders from across the opera industry will gather for the annual opera conference in Boston — Opera Entrepreneurship: Building on Tradition — which will feature many opportunities to reexamine the way in which we approach our work.

The word entrepreneur is nothing to shy away from: though it's often included alongside business jargon like ROI and time-value of money, it can just as easily be aligned with arts education buzzwords like creativity and innovation. Successful entrepreneurs are able to identify a wish, want or desire held by a certain population and find a unique and creative way to make that wish come true.
Interview: George Steel of New York City Opera
Marc A. Scorca, President & CEO, OPERA America ,
Original Content4/18/2011
OPERA America’s Marc A. Scorca interviewed George Steel, New York City Opera General Manager and Artistic Director on April 12, 2011 about recent press, the 2011-2012 season and union negotiations.
The Nuts, Bolts and Secrets of Covering
Katherine Drago, mezzo-soprano ,
Making Connections4/20/2011
Working for an opera company as a cover is a great way to begin building a reputation in the industry as a talented artist and dependable colleague. This interactive seminar will teach you the essential dos and don’ts of covering, as well as techniques for notating and reviewing blocking, how to conduct yourself during rehearsals and more.
Collegiate Collaboration
Brooke Feldman, Artistic Services Intern, OPERA America ,
Original Content7/11/2011
As a stage management student at Syracuse University, one of the first things I learned was that performing arts production is a collaborative process. Every class that I took, from basic rehearsal techniques to budgeting, steered back to the concept of collaboration. I was fortunate enough to stage manage productions across a spectrum of genres during my time at school, but it was through my work with Syracuse’s opera workshop that I learned the true meaning of collaboration.
Tips for Assembling Your Opera Fund Application
Lyndsay Werking, Artistic Services Manager, OPERA America ,
Original Content8/4/2011
As the summer comes to an end, we at OPERA America are excited to be launching the next round of grant opportunities through The Opera Fund. This year, awards will be given in the Audience Development category for projects that focus on community engagement activities undertaken in conjunction with the creation and/or production of a new or existing American work. The deadline to submit a letter of intent is August 26. The competition for limited funds is highly competitive. In looking through past grant proposals, we have created some general guidelines to help you as you prepare your application.
DIY Professional Development
Laura Day Giarolo, Director of Learning & Community Engagement, OPERA America ,
Original Content8/4/2011

Conferences and informal conversations alike provide opportunities for professionals to learn from and share with one another, building on the strength of their shared experiences. OPERA America provides several opportunities for mentors, mentees and peer groups to reconnect through in-person Forums, online chats and listserv conversations, and other arts organizations and arts service organizations offer similar services. Weekly or monthly e-newsletters (like OperaLink) have been known to spark conversations around the water cooler, but many of the more recent transformations in do-it-yourself professional development (DIYPD) have come through the blogosphere and through social and professional networking sites.

Singers: How to Research Producing Opera Companies
Megan Young ,
Original Content10/11/2011
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of opera producers in North America. So, how do you know which are appropriate for you at your current level of career achievement? Do you send out 100 headshots and resumes and hope for the best? We think not! Do your research ahead of time to find the opportunities that are appropriate for you. You'll cut down on the volume of materials you send out and you'll be less likely to be put on the "do not hear" list. To start your research, use OPERA America’s Career Guide for Opera. Read on for a comprehensive list of qualities to examine before you choose to audition…
Stress Management for Opera Artists
Robin Rigby, stress management consultant ,
Making Connections12/15/2011
Stress is often unavoidable, especially in the competitive and grueling world of opera. Fortunately, there are proven methods of reducing and managing stress and the factors that cause it. At this session you will learn how to effectively deal with stress so that you can stay healthy, productive and achieve your goals as an artist.
How to Talk About Finances So Non-Financial Folks Will Listen
Bridgestar Staff ,
Original Content12/22/2011
Nonprofit staff members almost universally understand the importance of achieving the mission of the organization and are trained in delivering direct services such as feeding the hungry, educating low-income children, or advocating for a more sustainable environment. However, many of these individuals, while highly skilled in a particular program area, do not have a lot of training and experience in working with financial data. Understandably, when prioritizing their work, nonprofit line managers will often choose to spend their time feeding the hungry over examining numbers on a departmental budget spreadsheet.
Opera Advocacy: Not Just About Appropriation
Brandon Gryde, Director of Government Affairs, Dance/USA and OPERA America ,
Original Content1/24/2012
By now, most in the performing arts community have learned that the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) received yet another cut for FY12. With the final funding amount at $145.979 million, the NEA has almost $9 million less this year on top of the $12 million cut in FY11.

These cuts were already reflected in the first round of Art Works grant allocations (in both the number and size of grants) and also in the change in FY13 guidelines with the elimination of consortium grants.

While funding for the NEA has been a flagship issue for the arts community and advocates, it’s important to know that this is not the only issue that the performing arts face in 2012. OPERA America represents the opera community in a wide array of issues — some that may be very familiar, and others that may be completely new.
The Blind Leap of Leadership
Laura Day Giarolo, Director of Learning and Community Engagement, OPERA America ,
Original Content1/24/2012
"I need you to jump off a cliff."
— President Josiah Bartlett, "The West Wing," Season 6, episode 3 ("Third Day Story")

It's not exactly the warmest, most enthusiastic job offer ever; yet, in many ways, assuming a position of leadership requires a leap of faith. Whether an individual is a new CEO or it is his or her first time supervising staff, being an effective leader requires a delicate blend of personal know-how and interpersonal skills.
Evaluation and Assessment: Beyond Anecdotal Evidence
Laura Day Giarolo, Director of Learning & Community Engagement, OPERA America ,
Original Content3/5/2012
Once a month, OPERA America staff members gather to discuss reports and publications that we’ve recently read. At our most recent Journal Club, one colleague reported on The Arts and Human Development: Framing a National Research Agenda for the Arts, Lifelong Learning, and Individual Well-Being, released fall 2011 by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. While the report’s purpose was to outline areas of arts participation ripe for future research, one of the studies cited, The Creativity and Aging Study: The Impact of Professionally Conducted Cultural Programs on Older Adults, found that older adults who participated in arts activities "reported higher overall physical health, fewer doctor visits, less medication use, fewer instances of falls and fewer health problems when compared to the comparison group. The intervention group also evidenced better morale and less loneliness than the comparison group. Similarly, [those participating in arts activities]… reported a trend toward increased activity." To which OPERA America staff members said, "Well, duh!"
Totally Non-Non-Non-Partisan Dude!
Brandon Gryde, Director of Government Affairs, OPERA America ,
Original Content4/4/2012
Believe me — I completely understand. I, too, have friends on Facebook who continue to post political memes. These posts beget even more ridiculous comments from their friends, ones that make online super contributors sound intelligent. The comments can rile you so much that you believe yourself to be the only person capable of setting these individuals straight.

But before you add your obviously rational voice to the discussion and inform your friends-of-friends of their comment's inaccuracies, PLEASE MAKE SURE THAT YOU'RE NOT POSTING TO YOUR OPERA COMPANY'S FACEBOOK ACCOUNT.

During an election year, emotions run high; candidates from both parties, eager to increase their media exposure, tend to make extreme statements. This makes it even easier to get caught up on the fracas.
Measuring Brand Personality: Why Customer Service, Social Marketing and Brandmaking are Becoming the Same Thing
Patricia Martin, Culture Scout Blog ,
Original Content4/17/2012
Everything communicates. Everything. What our brands do, say, show, process or sell. My colleague, Nancy Goldstein, is a brand strategist who is especially passionate about this. And she's right.

Lately, I've been studying the best behaviors of social brands. That's why this infographic caught my eye. It reveals interesting insights into customer service and social commerce.
CFOs Delve into Business Planning
Bridgestar ,
Original Content5/29/2012
The members of Bridgestar's New York Nonprofit CFO Networking Group, which comprises more than a dozen nonprofit chief financial officers (CFOs), held a wide-ranging discussion about many facets of business planning at one of their monthly meetings. Jon Huggett, then a partner at The Bridgespan Group, set the framework for the discussion by giving an overview of business planning, and then presenting a case study of the business planning process that the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans (AAMA) went through and the ensuing decisions the organization made1. This was followed by a lively question and answer session that touched on everything from helpful planning tools to the wrenching decisions that have to be made when a popular program is no longer financially viable. The following highlights from the discussion offer valuable insights from both Huggett and from practitioners in the field. Aside from Jon Huggett, participants are identified only by their initials. 
Managing in a Tough Economy: How Nonprofit Leaders and Their Organizations Are Facing the Uncertainty
Bridgestar ,
Original Content6/8/2012
These have rapidly become some of the most challenging times most of us have ever seen. Even for nonprofit leaders who are accustomed to making much of little, the repercussions of the current downturn are difficult to fathom and challenging to address.
An Excellence Manifesto for the Digital Age
Douglas McLennan, ArtsJournal ,
Original Content6/22/2012
  1. Excellence is Meaningless

Excellence doesn’t stand out when everything is excellent. In a world where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average,” being good looking, strong and above average won’t get you noticed. We perceive excellence when it stands out from the things around it. When everything is excellent then excellence is average. It’s in our nature to want more, to want different. Most declarations of excellence aren’t about excellence at all; they’re about positioning. In the digital age, when ideas and bits and bytes are cheap and endlessly reproducible, excellence is a mutable concept.
On Networking
Angela Myles Beeching, Director, New England Conservatory Career Services Center ,
ArtistLink10/10/2013
You often hear, "It's not what you know, it's who you know!" There is a real element of truth to this but to be accurate, it's who you know and what you do about it that matters. Networking, or "schmoozing," is simply an exchange of information and resources; it's a two-way street.

People often associate networking with other fields — with high tech or business — not the arts. But networking is an important factor in all fields, especially in the "small world" of music where reputations and connections are critical, if not crucial, to career building.

Summer 2014 Magazine Issue
  • Summer Apprenticeships
  • Opera Tours for Board Members
  • My First Opera by Speight Jenkins
Contact Us
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001
P 212-796-8620 • F 212-796-8621
Info@operaamerica.orgDirections
From Airport:
The easiest way to reach the OPERA America offices is to get a cab at the airport. Cost is $40-45
(not including tip).
  • JFK - Take the AirTrain ($5 - approx. 15 minutes) to the Jamaica Street Station and transfer to the Long Island Railroad (LIRR). Take the LIRR to Penn Station ($12 - approx. 35 minutes). See Penn Station directions below.
  • LaGuardia - Take the M60 Bus to the Hoyt Ave/31st Street. Get on the or Train and take that to 42nd/Times Square Station. Follow the Times Square Station directions below.
  • Newark - Take the New Jersey Transit train to Penn Station ($15 - approx. 45 min). See the Penn Station Directions below.

From Penn Station/Madison Square Garden:
Leave the station through the 7th Avenue/33rd Street exit and walk south for four blocks. The building is on
the right hand side.

From Grand Central Station:
Take the Train to the 42nd/Times Square station and transfer to the Train.
Take the Train to the 28th Street stop and walk north on 7th Avenue.
The building is on the same block as the train stop.

From 42nd Street/Times Square:
Take the Train to the 28th Street stop and walk north on 7th Avenue.
The building is on the same block as the train stop.

For more detailed directions, most up-to-date pricing or to specify a different starting location, please visit the
MTA Web site.