Opera School notes add up

By Lin Ferguson

Wanganui's annual Opera School has once again been a financial success, bringing $60,000 more into the city's coffers than in the previous year, 2012.

Wanganui Opera Week (WOW) secretary Pat Cunniffe said in her report that just under $400,000 had come in, compared to $340,000 last year.

Mrs Cunniffe said she used the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's most recent guidelines of $364 for an average overnight spend.

"There was a minimum of 1060 nights stayed, with $114 for an out-of-town day trip spend (a conservative estimate of 56 people). The financial benefit to Wanganui amounted to just under $400,000."

The 19th New Zealand Opera School at Collegiate School is a residential training programme for young aspiring opera singers which ran from January 2-14.

Run by the New Zealand Opera School under the leadership of executive director Donald Trott, assisted by director Jonathan Alver, the programme is supported by the WOW committee.

Mrs Cunniffe said WOW guaranteed the smooth running of the public events promoting the school's activities to attract audiences to the various operatic events around Wanganui.

Apart from ticket sales for the lunchtime concert held this year in Heritage House, and a contribution from the group who come annually from Wellington, WOW relied entirely on fundraising for its activities, she said.

Major sponsors include Wanganui District Council ($5000 from the Impact Fund), Creative Communities ($3000) and the Wanganui Education Trust ($3000). Some $3000 in donations was also received, and fundraising specifically for flags raised $2500. In-kind sponsorship from local businesses helped with costs.

Over the 13 days of the school, audiences numbers were more than 2500. The audience at the Heritage House lunchtime recital was 209, and 413 people attended the chapel service. The three restaurant venues were sold out with a total of 233 diners and audience numbers at the Masterclasses reached 552, with 750 people at the final night concert at the Royal Wanganui Opera House, which was a sell-out performance, Mrs Cunniffe said.

Overnight stays were identified through a small survey carried out at the final concert.

Erring on the conservative side there were 1060 overnight stays identified but not taking into account the people who came for events other than the final concert, nor those who came to support students or accompanied New Zealand Opera School staff, Mrs Cunniffe said.

New Zealand visitors came from the North Shore, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, and most places in between, she said.

However, there were overseas visitors from England, Scotland, Australia, and the US who stayed a total of 71 nights in the city.

But it must be emphasised that this survey did not capture the entire picture, she said.

"Some people were unable to attend the final concert as there were no seats available. Some attended other public events and were not identified so the figures provided are therefore a minimum, and based on known facts."

But the outcomes of the Wanganui Opera Week were, without exception, positive.

"In terms of creativity, the development of young operatic talent is paralleled by the development of a more informed and enthusiastic audience for the art and craft of opera. Wanganui is in this way identified as a centre of cultural activity that complements other creative endeavours enjoyed by the city," Mrs Cunniffe said.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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