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Article Published: 14 Jul 2021

Governance Survey

The newly released Opera Company Governance Report, drawn from data from 135 American and Canadian opera companies, provides context for company staff and board members to compare their practices to those adopted across North America. The report covers board size, structure, meetings, terms, policies, giving, and participation — highlights of which are excerpted here.

The benchmarks provided are not intended as prescriptive ideals. No company should aim to hit each average. Rather, the information in the report should serve as a reference to make decisions that are appropriate for each company and its community.


  • Have term limits: 65%
    Average Term: 3 years


  • Have Conflict of Interest Policy: 84%
  • Have Anti-Harassment Policy: 70%
  • Have Gift Acceptance Policy: 44%

Training (Including EDI, Anti-Harassment, Fundraising, Etc.)

  • Provide Onboarding to New Board Members: 95%
  • Provides Training or Coaching to Board Members: 59%


  • Percentage of Contributed Revenue from Board Giving: 24%
  • Average Board Gifts: From $99K (Budget 1) to $3K (Budget 5)

Most Common Committees

  • Finance: 83%
  • Governance: 79%
  • Development: 71%
  • Executive: 69%
  • Special Events: 44%
  • Education/Community Engagement: 41%
  • Marketing: 40%


  • Average duration: 90 minutes
  • Average frequency: 7–8 per year

The full report is available here.

This article was published in the Summer 2021 issue of Opera America Magazine.