The stereotype that "an artist should be hungry" is irrelevant in the 21st century. In modern market relations, art and its representatives cannot survive if they do not earn money. For example, in 2023, the UK cut government funding for opera houses, which put some of them on the verge of bankruptcy, and forced them to look for new ways to generate income.
The Royal Opera House cooperates with fashion brands
The Royal Opera House in London was on the verge of financial collapse, which forced the new head Lloyd Dorfman to develop a plan to save it and commercialize performances. In an interview to Bloomberg, Dorfman told how at the beginning of the year ballet dancers wore costumes designed by Burberry. The head of the theater noted that the next in his PR campaign will be the promotion of the works of costume designers in Tiktok and the placement of The Nutcracker on Netflix. Dorfman, who made a fortune by founding the Travelex money exchange company, also treats the work of the theater as a business that needs to be made profitable. He intends to continue cooperation with well-known brands, including by placing their advertisements on the facade of the opera house. Dorfman said that the theater will agree to advertise luxury brands like Tiffany & Co or Rolex, if they are interested in the offer.
New sources of income are crucial for the survival of the Royal Opera House, which, after funding cuts and rising costs, has an annual deficit of 15 million pounds. Over the next ten years, it will also have to spend 200 million pounds on a historic building.
The Arts Council of Great Britain in 2023 reduced the funding of the Royal Opera House by 9% or 2.2 million pounds, which was a big blow to the theater. According to Stage magazine, its ticket prices range from £11 to £235 and cover only 40% of the costs. In addition to developing the advertising business, Dorfman is also actively looking for sponsors for the theater and even set a personal example by donating 10 million pounds to its needs.
The Metropolitan Opera reduced the number of performances and focused on contemporary composers
The Metropolitan Opera House in New York is also suffering from a lack of funds and weak ticket sales. And this is despite the fact that the Metropolitan is considered the main opera company in the United States. In 2023, in order to compensate losses and cover operating costs, the theater had to take $ 30 million from its fund, which consists of donations.
As new donations arrive, the company hopes to replenish its fund. To reduce costs, the troupe has reduced the number of performances by about 10% - from 215 performances in 2022 to 194 in 2023.
Experts believe that the financial difficulties of the opera house are connected with the difficulties of getting out of the pandemic, when people practically stopped attending public events. The theater hopes to lure them back with the help of updating the repertoire and including more modern composers in it, for whose productions tickets are sold better than for classics.
San Francisco Opera has launched a biopic about Steve Jobs, and Sydney Opera is thriving
San Francisco Opera went a similar way of attracting audience back after the pandemic, which in October launched a new play called "The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs", "inspired by the life and creative spirit" of the Apple co-founder. Steve Jobs is still a cult personality in the modern world, and public interest in his personality has only grown after his death. For example, his old Birkenstock shoes were sold at auction for almost $220 thousand. It is not surprising that the San Francisco Opera decided to make money on the biopic of this guru of innovators.
As noted by a Bloomberg columnist who visited the performance, such a cult of personality and the desire to give more drama to the life of a person producing devices did not look too appropriate in a theater with a 91-year history, which used to be more focused on classics.
Another example of creating a successful brand was the Sydney Opera House, which, according to a study by Deloitte, 72% of respondents called a symbol of Australia. This year, the Sydney Opera celebrated its 50th anniversary, and its brand was valued at $11.4 billion. It is the main center of attraction for tourists who visit the city 80% of the time to visit the opera. In 2022-2023, the theater contributed more than $824 million to the Sydney economy, and its box office grossed $10 million.