At the Canadian Opera Company’s Annual General Meeting yesterday, they used the time to celebrate milestones, including the hiring of Alexander Neef as head of Opéra national de Paris.
There was also some seat swapping, with Jonathan Morgan taking the role of Board Chair for 2019/2020 from Justin Linden.
“Over the past season, the COC has continued on its path of artistic excellence and community outreach,” says Linden. “…I would also like to congratulate Alexander Neef on his recent appointment to Opéra National de Paris, which clearly speaks to the impressive achievements of the Canadian Opera Company.”
Besides six well-received productions during the 2018/19 season, the numbers released yesterday show flat growth, a humble $6,000 surplus, and an opera company learning to do more with less.
Attendance over the last five years is down slightly, but up last year from 84 to 86 percent. It should be noted that when compared to other opera companies, 86 percent is an excellent showing. For example, the Metropolitan Opera sells approximately 67 percent of its seats.
While ticket sales have been in a steady decline, it’s import to take note that they have also cut the number of performances from 58 in 2015 to 48 in 2019, so it is natural to see a decline in ticket sales. To the COC’s credit, they have managed maintain their revenue, despite lowering their performances, which attests to some revenue diversification.
The most notable good news is the jump in tickets sold to those under age 30, which reached over 7.5 thousand. This marks a reversal from last year’s slump of 5.7 thousand.
Subscriptions have fallen 24.2 percent since 2015, and single tickets dropped 18 percent since 2015. While the COC is surely not alone in the trend towards declining audiences, it is cause for concern.
Like all major arts organizations, the COC relies on its foundation to balance the books. But what’s notable is that they doubled this reliance last year to $4.5 M, up from $2.1 M in 2018.
As of December 31, 2018, the COC’s Foundation’s endowment is sitting at $39.8 M. The COC pulled $3.4 M from the foundation in grants, and received just over $1 M in donations and bequests. They also received an additional $660 thousand, thanks to the matching endowment program under the Canada Cultural Investment Fund.
Government grants, including operating and special projects, in the 18/19 season totaled $6.14 M. Canada Council ($2.04 M), Ontario Arts Council ($2.3 M), City of Toronto ($1.5 M)
Taking into account the five-year strategic plan (COC365) released in Oct 2014 (PDF), it shows the COC has set clear goals towards the financial health of the COC, which remains in the black — for now.