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Blog Post: Oct 27, 2022

OTSL Closes 2022 Fiscal Year with Expanding Audience, Increased Philanthropy, and Extension of General Director Andrew Jorgensen’s Contract

Following the conclusion of its 2022 fiscal year on September 30, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis (OTSL) announced preliminary results that include a considerable increase of new audiences and vibrant philanthropic support for the company. A comprehensive audit will be completed and published in February of 2023.

The 2022 fiscal year marked the company’s return to the Loretto-Hilton Center for its annual Festival Season, after staging an Outdoor Festival Season in 2021. Making their world premieres were the new performing edition of Stewart Wallace and Michael Korie’s Harvey Milk, about the LGBTQ civil rights activist, and Tobias Picker and Aryeh Lev Stollman’s Awakenings, about the famous neurologist and author Oliver Sacks. Rounding out the season were two new productions of cherished classics, Carmenand The Magic Flute.

Though the effects of the pandemic continue to be felt at box offices across the country, OTSL nonetheless celebrated its highest-ever rate of new audience acquisition, with 1,640 new-to-file households, compared to 1,384 in 2019. OTSL also saw significant growth in its popular Young Friends program for audiences 45 and under; Young Friends revenue increased by 56% over 2019. Through Phyllis’ Seats, a free ticket initiative named after one of OTSL’s most generous donors, more than 1,800 seats were made available to members of the community in 2022. Approximately 51% of Phyllis’ Seats users were new to OTSL, signaling the importance of accessibility in the arts. Total ticket sales for the 2022 Festival Season reached $1,253,561.

Philanthropic support for Opera Theatre reached 104% of the company’s goal, with a total of $6.3 million in contributed operating support from 1,444 donor households. OTSL continued to receive competitive grants from major national funders, including The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. The company’s Spring Gala, chaired by Bob & Jane Clark, raised over $1 million, which was 120% of the event goal. New donor households grew by 46% and contributed the highest level of new support in the company’s history.

On a creative front, OTSL continues to be an industry leader in championing new works and telling diverse and relevant stories. In 2022, the company launched a ground-breaking initiative called the New Works Collective, which takes two significant steps in centering inclusive and community-driven artistic programming. First, OTSL solicited applications from artists around the country via an open call for commissioning; more than 130 artists applied. Second, OTSL convened a collective of 10 community members from St. Louis to independently choose three creative teams to write new 20-minute operas. This revolutionary approach invites community members to lead the decision-making process, while offering OTSL’s resources and experience to creators who are new to opera. OTSL will produce these operas in March 2023. The three teams chosen — composer Del’Shawn Taylor and librettist Samiya Bashir, co-composers and librettists Simon Tam and Joe X. Jiang, and composer/librettist Tre’von Griffith — are already at work developing their operas with stage director Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj. The New Works Collective is funded in part by leadership gifts from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Edward Jones Foundation.

The 2022 fiscal year also marked significant milestones in OTSL’s leadership. Kim Eberlein began her tenure as Board Chair in FY2022, succeeding Noémi Neidorff. With the support of the full Board of Directors, Eberlein announced the renewal of General Director Andrew Jorgensen’s contract for an additional five-year term, extending his tenure through June 30, 2028, which will mark Jorgensen’s 10th year at Opera Theatre.

“Andrew has proven himself to be exactly the right leader for this time in America, as the arts embrace more diverse voices, incorporate exciting advances in technology, and strive to connect our community in new ways,” said Eberlein. “During these past few years of challenges, Andrew has demonstrated incredible integrity, openness, and wisdom to successfully navigate through this period. We’re excited to see how OTSL will continue to flourish in the next six years under his thoughtful, visionary leadership.”

“I’m elated to be leading this phenomenal company for another six years, and I’m so grateful for the Board’s trust and faith in me.” said Jorgensen. “OTSL’s future is bright, and we’re all excited about our journey forward. I’m fortunate to work in such a culturally rich city with visionary artistic partners, an incredible staff, and the most wonderful patrons and donors. My husband Mark and I are thrilled to grow our family in this fantastic community.”