In Saturday’s (3/27) New York Times, Robin Pogrebin reports, “The philanthropist Ann Ziff has given $30 million to the Metropolitan Opera, the largest single gift from an individual in its history. ‘It came at a time when the Met is sorely in need of cash,’ Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, said in an interview at his office on Friday. ‘We really need it, and we need a lot more than that. We have been in a position of significant financial challenge.’ The Met is projecting a deficit of as much as $4 million for the current fiscal year. … Donors typically earmark their big gifts for building projects that will ultimately bear their names. But Ms. Ziff’s gift, made in behalf of her family, is unrestricted, which means it can be used to help cover the Met’s $300 million annual operating expenses. … In Mr. Gelb’s first three years the operating budget increased by $60 million, largely because of ambitious new productions and media efforts like the Met’s high-definition transmissions of live performances into movie theaters. At the same time, these new activities have resulted in ‘significant returns,’ Mr. Gelb said, explaining that revenue has increased at a greater rate than expenses.”

Posted March 29, 2010