Culture Flash!

UT Opera scores a wealth of green while ALO is in the black, and Salvage Vanguard Labor Party wins a vote of financial confidence

Culture Flash!

UT Opera Theatre is singing the praises of Ernest and Sarah Butler. The Austin Arts Hall of Fame couple, honored for their philanthropy, have blessed the program with $2 million to endow it. UT Opera director Robert DeSimone says that the endowment will support new graduate studies in opera conducting and coaching and the creation of new operas. In return, the university will be naming the program the Sarah and Ernest Butler Opera Theatre Program. This gift is the third major contribution that the Butlers have made to the arts locally this year. They also gave $500,000 to Ballet Austin's general endowment fund and $1 million to UT's Blanton Museum of Art to endow a gallery in the new museum complex.

Speaking of opera, there's good financial news at Austin Lyric Opera. The company is ending its 2003-2004 fiscal year with a surplus of almost $45,000, despite an 8.1% drop in single ticket sales from the previous season. Credit strong subscription sales, which surpassed their goal by $15,000, $1.7 million in annual fund contributions from individuals and corporations, and the Armstrong Community Music School closing the year in the black. ALO's Endowment Fund also received a generous $1 million gift from Gail and Jeffrey Kodosky/The Kodosky Foundation. By the by, ALO's 2004-2005 season starts early, as in next week: Catch Tosca with Artistic Director Richard Buckley's conducting debut at Bass Concert Hall Sept. 17-20.

The Salvage Vanguard Labor Party raised a tidy $15,000 last week. More than 220 people came to the event at the ALLGO Tillery Street Theater. That will help pay an annual stipend of $5,000 to each of SVT's Resident Company Members (currently playwright/actor Dan Dietz, composer Graham Reynolds, designer Chase Staggs, and actresses Jenny Larson and Lee Eddy). SVT opens its latest show, C. Denby Swanson's The Death of a Cat, starring Larson, Dietz, Cyndi Williams, and Jeffery Mills, on Friday, Sept. 10 ("pay as you wish" preview on Thursday, Sept. 9). It's a return to performing for Dietz, who's been focused on playwriting for a few years – and with good reason. His playwriting star has been on the rise. And it still is, as evidenced by the news that his script tempOdyssey will be presented at the New Work Now festival at the Public Theater in New York on Oct. 22. For more information, call 474-SVT-6 or visit

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UT Opera Theatre, Ernest and Sarah Butler, Austin Arts Hall of Fame, Robert DeSimone, Ballet Austin, Blanton Museum of Art, Austin Lyric Opera, Armstrong Community Music School, Gail Koskey, Jeffrey Kodosky, The Kodosky Foundation, ALO, Richard Buckley, Salvage Vanguard Labor Party, Dan Dietz, Graham Reynolds, Chase Staggs, Jenny Larson, Lee Eddy, SVT

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