Donor bequest creates controversy

October 18, 2009 § Leave a comment

The Santa Fe Opera received an upfront payment as well as the mineral rights to future profits for the drilling of oil and gas in a bequest to support the apprentice program for young singers.  Drilling is a controversial issue in New Mexico and watchdog groups are surprised to see an opera company involved.  Charles MacKay, general director of the opera, hopes to both fulfill the donor’s wishes and address people’s environmental concerns.  

The question lies in the opera’s commitment to honor the donor’s intentions and maintain financial viability, but also to act in a socially and environmentally responsible way.  Similarly to the way corporate entities must remain sensitive to how their actions affect their communities, not-for-profit organizations must also be aware of these growing concerns.  As funding sources become more diverse, in terms of where the money comes from and over what timeline it is distributed, arts organizations may have to take a closer look from the start at the terms of accepting donations that could have negative impacts down the road.



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