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Record amount of donations for New York Metropolitan Opera, but ticket sales down for years

The New York Times reports that the Metropolitan Opera in New York has brought in record donations this fiscal year. The counter stands at 182 million dollars. This is 50 per cent more than the previous year.

However, revenue from ticket sales has been declining for several years. In addition, spending patterns have been rising since general manager Peter Gelb the pan. His adage: those who want to make money must spend money.

If the trend continues next year, the man may be proved right. Donors now support 43 per cent of the annual budget of $325 million - the most expensive opera house in the world. Yet the question is whether it can succeed. Chances are the Met will price itself out of the market.

One possible reason for its success may be the HD live series that has been running since 2005: the live broadcasts of a production in cinemas worldwide (e.g. Tuschinsky Amsterdam). It makes the opera house an important export product.

Such a high amount of donations is impossible in the Netherlands for the time being. Although it Concertgebouw started issuing bonds a year after that the concept had been applied very successfully by the new concert venue in Amsterdam, Splendor, the system here has all sorts of snags.

Leiden University already noticed this in the fund they wanted to set up around their monumental buildings. There was too little enthusiasm, partly because the tax benefit is not obvious. In the US, it is possible for individuals and companies to deduct all cultural donations from taxes.

The Giving Act allows a similar benefit to be set up in the Netherlands, but it remains to be seen whether that can work. This afternoon there is a hearing in the chamber on the Giving Act.


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