About Portland Opera’s Strategic Plan

Metropolitan Group believes that these three interrelated strategies will lead Portland Opera down a path of growth, service to the community, national prominence, and enhanced financial stability.

The elements of each strategy will require time, effort, collaboration, and investment to evaluate and pursue, and the details of the strategies should be modified over time as progress towards their goals is measured. Growth will require ongoing attention, but Metropolitan Group believes if these strategies are followed, Portland Opera will be a major artistic leader for the community for many years to come.

The leadership team of Portland Opera is so grateful to the board members, staff members, artists, musicians, community members, patrons, movers and shakers, and everyone who shared feedback about where we have been as an organization, and where we are headed. Our plan is to build upon the successes that we have already created together, while adjusting course to align with patron and stakeholder feedback. We are inspired by the exciting thinking and ideas that forged this plan. We look forward to creating a more sustainable financial path forward so that we can continue to serve the community for decades to come.

Portland Opera’s commitment while we embark on this work is simple: we will continue to listen to the community and artistic voices that remain at the heart of our future. We are a company that belongs to this amazing community, and we intend to grow.

The Summary of Our Process

In September 2018, Metropolitan Group was contracted to develop a strategic plan for Portland Opera. Portland Opera has been part of the community since its founding in 1964. It has seen many ups and downs, and changes, and remains a cornerstone of the arts and cultural landscape in Oregon. We learned that the organization has faced operating shortfalls for the past several years. Cumulative operating cash flow losses since the FY 2015–16 change to a summer season could result in the opera drawing down its endowment completely in seven years if decisive action is not taken now.

We also discovered multifaceted solutions and organization-wide strategies to make improvements.

Staff and Board members felt strongly that their voices needed to be heard throughout this process. We designed an approach to give adequate space for this while seeking new ideas and perspectives. Following a review of existing research, reports, literature, and assessments from Portland Opera, we implemented a research phase that engaged internal and external stakeholders, including subscribers, funders, partners, businesses, and other admired arts organizations in Portland and other markets across the country, to solicit their input on the areas of opportunity they felt that Portland Opera should pursue. We also engaged with OPERA America (the national opera service organization) to provide a larger regional perspective.

We presented our research findings and recommendations to the Board’s Strategic Planning Committee and executive staff over the course of the 18/19 season. Our thinking and strategies reflect input from the strategic planning committee, as well as Portland Opera staff and other local and national experts. This plan includes three interrelated strategies, starting with the concepts that will have the fastest impact. Metropolitan Group believes that if Portland Opera just implemented strategies one and three, Portland Opera could extend its financial viability by a number of years. However, the ceiling to truly grow and serve the community will be limited, and the ability to create a sustainable operating model and the size and diversity of a support-base needed is less likely without strategy two. Strategy two includes larger longer-term strategies (beyond the five-year duration of this plan), that could catapult Portland Opera into a new level of community connection and leadership. Patience, flexibility, collaboration, and shared determinations will be vital to achieving the fullest potential of this plan.

- Metropolitan Group

Thank you for your interest in the next chapter for Portland Opera. Please check back soon for updates and reports about our team’s progress with these strategies.

In the meantime, feel free to share any questions or comments with us by emailing feedback@portlandopera.org or contact Andrea Tichy, Director of Marketing and Communications.