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L.A. Opera hiring despite continued financial difficulties

July 6, 2010 | 11:11 am

Pavilion

Its financial footing is still shaky and the overall donor environment remains soft, but Los Angeles Opera apparently feels confident enough to add a new name to its roster of top leaders.

According to a hiring notice that is circulating among public-relations professionals, L.A. Opera is looking to fill a vacant position that will oversee the company's marketing and communications efforts.

The job, which carries the title of vice president of marketing and communications, involves overseeing a staff of about 10 individuals. The person hired for the position would report to the company's chief operating officer, Stephen Rountree. 

A spokesman for L.A. Opera said Tuesday that the position was previously occupied by Hope Boonshaft, who left the company in 2008. He added that the company was waiting until the end of the recent production of Richard Wagner's "Ring" cycle to fill the vacant post.

L.A. Opera already has a director of marketing and a director of communications and public relations. Those individuals would eventually report to the person hired for the position.

The company has suffered a series of financial blows over the last two years. Last week, the company said that it incurred an approximately $6-million budget deficit from its first-ever production of Wagner's "Ring" cycle, partly because of weaker-than-expected demand for tickets. In late 2009, the company received a $14-million emergency loan from L.A. County to help cover operations and mounting debt.

Also in 2009, L.A. Opera laid off 17 employees, or approximately 17% of its staff.

The new hire will put L.A. Opera in line with some major U.S. opera companies. Both the Metropolitan Opera and the Washington National Opera have similarly titled positions.

Here's an excerpt from L.A. Opera's hiring notice for the open post.

"Reporting to the Chief Operating Officer, the Vice President for Marketing and Communications is responsible for the creation, implementation and oversight of LA Opera's marketing and communications strategy. The position will be responsible for all marketing strategy, infrastructure and systems management to advance market penetration and audience development, with the goal of enhancing LA Opera's position as a cultural leader in Los Angeles and a destination for regional, national, and international opera audiences.

"The Vice President of Marketing and Communications will supervise all marketing, public relations and audience services staff (approximately 10 total staff members). He/She will develop and implement a comprehensive brand and communications strategy in order to increase the visibility of LA Opera and position it as a world-class opera company. His/Her department will be responsible for developing web content, marketing collateral and other materials as needed. He/She will need to develop and implement targeted subscription and single-ticket campaigns, develop and manage web-based initiatives including working with social media outlets, and strengthen group sales and tourist package sales. The Vice President for Marketing and Communications will also develop programs to effectively mine the customer database and customize patron communication. Collaborating with the fundraising staff to develop plans in order to advance corporate underwriting and co-marketing initiatives will also be important. He/She will be responsible for developing a budget for the department and for projecting revenue."

-- David Ng

Photo: A view of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, home of the L.A. Opera. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

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