New York’s Metropolitan Opera has reportedly withdrawn nearly $40m (£32m/€37m) in additional emergency funds from its endowment, as it continues to struggle in the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the New York Times, the move comes after the Met was forced to take $30m from its endowment fund to help cover operating expenses last season due to weak ticket sales. The report added that the Met’s endowment fund is now worth around $255m, down from $309m in July.
Peter Gelb, general manager of the Met, told the newspaper: “For most people the pandemic is over. For arts institutions, we’re still in it. But we see a way out. There is light at the end of the tunnel.”
The light Gelb mentioned comes in the form of a rise in paid attendance, the attraction of younger audiences and cinema broadcasts.
Paid attendance has risen to roughly 73% so far this season, an increase on the 63% figure at the same point last season. This number is also almost level with that of pre-pandemic seasons. Additionally, the Met’s Live in HD cinema broadcasts are beginning to draw in larger crowds, but are currently breaking even with the $15m pre-pandemic figure.
With the offering of more contemporary opera, the Met has also begun to attract younger audiences; the average age of single-ticket buyers has dropped to 44 from 50.
The Met expects to receive cash gifts and donations of more than $100m over the next few years, which will help to replenish the endowment.