During last week’s Logan City council meeting, Mayor Craig Petersen proposed a resolution to provide $150,000 in additional funding assistance to The Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre.
The opera is also seeking $100,000 from Cache County for a combined donation of $250,000 in addition to the $125,000 the opera is receiving in RAPZ tax money.
Michael Ballam, the opera’s founding and general director, told the council the opera needs the money after losing two donors when one donor had financial difficulty and the other chose to donate to humanitarian causes instead of the opera.
“This year, we lost two patrons whom we thought were perpetual, that they would give us around $200,000 every year, forever,” he said. “Nothing is forever.”
Since the council meeting, Ballam has met with the city’s finance director Richard Anderson. Their meeting is part of an investigation by a committee formed by the city in order to look into the opera’s finances before making a decision regarding the funding the opera has requested.
Ballam argues the opera generates significant income for Cache Valley and deserves the additional money.
“The festival contributes to the economy, not because of the performances,” he said. “We don’t make that money; we break even. But we generate a good deal of income to the community. Because we do five or six shows, people will come and spend three days in our hotels, they eat in our restaurants, they buy things along Main Street, and they drop a good deal of money.”
Ballam said Logan City and Cache County should see one-time funding for the opera as an investment rather than a bailout.
“It’s a matter of saying this enterprise brings into the community somewhere over $20 million in the summer. Were it not to thrive, we would lose that $20 million,” he said. “So in the case of the city, where we have asked for $150,000, that’s an investment to keep $20 million of return.”
The city council will discuss funding for the opera at their meeting on Oct. 3, where they will accept public comment on the issue.