Lyric Opera of Chicago

An open letter from David T. Ormesher, Chairman of the Board

Dear All,

As I reflect on our 2016/17 season, I am amazed again by the quality and diversity of productions I saw on the Lyric stage, the efforts we have taken to advance our art form and the exceptional talent we continue to attract. As Chairman of Lyric's Board, I also think of the past year as a period of heightened focus, analysis and planning.

Lyric, like cultural institutions nationwide, has felt intensifying financial pressure in recent years as we encounter growing competition both for audience attention and donor investment. As always, our donors have been incredibly generous. In fact, it was the success of our Breaking New Ground campaign that allowed us to continue to modernize our stage equipment and infrastructure while also bridging the revenue shortfall in our annual operating budget. Thanks to the many who donated so generously to this campaign, we have not had to make any sacrifices in the quality of our art while we work to address our underlying financial challenges.

That said, the Board, along with the broader Lyric management team, believes strongly that we have a responsibility to evaluate every facet of our organization and budget to ensure we are building a financially sustainable organization that will thrive for many years to come. Our analysis and self-reflection resulted in six key priorities:

  • Completing more rigorous season planning to ensure we are making the most of our production dollars without sacrificing quality;

  • Reducing operating costs, which to date has been focused on improving efficiency in our administrative functions;

  • Maximizing the revenue-generating potential of the space we own by strategically pursuing and accommodating those who want to use our beautiful opera house – including our recent announcement that The Joffrey Ballet will become a resident company in the Lyric Opera House beginning with the 2020/21 season;

  • Diversifying revenue with initiatives such as our annual musical;

  • Growing our traditional audience; and

  • Evaluating additional fundraising opportunities.

We have made progress in each of these areas over the past two years, which we are beginning to see in the financial information released today. However, we still have a long way to go to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves. As we look ahead to the 2017/18 fiscal year, the Lyric Board will continue to look across our strong portfolio of assets – and to leverage the wealth of talent invested in this great institution – to ensure Lyric's rightful place among the world's great opera companies for many years to come.

We look forward to sharing our continued progress and thank all those who have contributed to our journey to date.


David T. Ormesher
Chairman of the Board