Knight at the opera

Michael Borowitz

Michael Borowitz is the general and artistic director of Nevada Opera, one of the oldest nonprofit arts institutions in Nevada. The organization recently canceled its planned February production, The Circus Princess, because of financial difficulties. As part of efforts to save Nevada Opera, Borowitz has pledged not to take a salary during the 2009-2010 season. Nevada Opera is currently attempting to raise funds from private donors. For more information, including details about donation, visit

So Nevada Opera just had to cancel a show?

Our February production of Circus Princess. The economy really caught up with us faster than we could keep up with it, and so … to keep the company going, we canceled that production. And we’re in the process right now of raising some money to make sure that we can make it through the rest of the season.

Tell me about the money-raising efforts.

Well, we just had a town hall meeting this past Thursday [Jan. 29] here at the Pioneer Center, and that was very well attended, and we got lots of great feedback from our patrons in general. So now what we’re doing is—obviously we’re still contacting our larger donors and that sort of thing—but we’ve started a real grass roots campaign, a viral marketing campaign online through our website and through a couple of giving websites. … We’re calling it the “85,000 friends.” We want to try to reach 85,000 folks to give a dollar to join this group, and that will get us to where we need to be.

What are the next productions you have coming up?

Well, La Boheme is our next one coming up in April, and of course that’s the one that was the basis for the musical Rent. It’s, you know, one of the all-time favorites.

It’s a crowd-pleaser.

It’s a crowd-pleaser. She dies in the end, but nobody minds, it’s what we all sort of wait for, and we love the catharsis. We love to cry over it.

How on-track are you for reaching your fund-raising goals?

Well, we seem to be doing all right—we’re at about 20,000, as of [Feb. 2] to take away from the 85, so we’re looking at around 65,000. So we’re making great strides. It’s wonderful to see the emails back from people. The fact is there’s a lot of people who want to see it continue through, so that’s what I’m most excited about.

Why do you think the economy is hitting arts organizations especially hard?

It’s hard because, when you’re trying to pay your mortgage, and you’re not exactly sure whether or not you’re still going to be in the job that you’re currently in, the first things to go are those things that are what you consider not really necessary. … What we’re trying to say to people is, I think in a year or two years, if this company wasn’t here, it would have a devastating effect on the arts scene here in town—and not just for our adult patrons, but also for the kids who study with all the folks who are part of our productions, and who really get the most out of that. It’s important for us to remember that those kids are going to be the ones that are our patrons later on in life. And this kind of education you just don’t get in elementary schools or in high schools anymore, it’s so hard. So to have it in the community is so important.