Not canned — Campbells "part ways" with opera

For all the tragic mistakes, Board mismanagement, and apparent greed of recent years, we must give credit to Ian Campbell, and also to Ann Campbell, for building a great opera company for San Diego over 31 years. When Ian came, the opera was in extreme crisis and almost bankrupt. In those years, he used his energy and his amazing talent for finding young singers early in their careers--he gave us exceptional performances that were as good as opera at any of the great houses of the world. For that, we are grateful. Like so many in the arts, he just didn't know when to get off the stage. He should have seen that his own exhaustion and pessimism about the future was impacting the opera; and he should have retired at age 65 instead of clinging on these last 3 years. Ditto for Ann Campbell--she is known around the country for her fundraising abilities. It was no small task to raise $12+ million a year for the San Diego Opera--year in, year out. She did a great job, but she, too, was exhausted. She should have resigned, and moved on to raise money for another nonprofit where she could have renewed energy and commitment. So rather than these snarky comments (Scott Marks, dwbat, and others), try to take the more generous, constructive, optimistic stance of Carol Lazier and the "new" SDO board--we need to thank the Campbell's, acknowledge the mistakes, and move on to the future. A wonderful 50th anniversary season is ahead of us.
— May 17, 2014 4:23 p.m.

Millions for football in San Diego, zilch for opera

I believe deeply that one of the biggest problems we have is our deteriorating educational system, and even the very rich are generally not that well educated--as you say, they have very pedestrian tastes. And publicly-funded education as it was originally envisioned in the 19th and early 20th centuries, is what is needed--not "elite" education that only the rich can afford. But it is the overall "social progress" that has sunk so low--Look at this analysis from the Social Progress Index: While boosters like to think of the USA as #1 in all things, the truth is very different. And while Europe may have financial challenges, these statistics reveal that the quality of life for their citizens is generally far superior to ours. High taxes that support a high quality of life is something that the U.S. understood in the past--but in the wake of Reaganomics, and then the disaster of Bush and his endless wars paid for on credit, we are now in terrible shape. No wonder something like the Opera can sink--the top 1 percenters, though they have raked in huge sums in recent years, are not increasing their giving--not to the arts or to anything else. Middle class and poor Americans give a far higher percentage of their income to charity than the very rich.
— April 23, 2014 4:06 p.m.

Millions for football in San Diego, zilch for opera

I couldn't disagree more about government subsidy of the arts. If you look at the recent Social Progress Index study that was just issued by Harvard (and led by a very conservative academic), the U.S. is now ranking pathetically low globally in just about every category--health, education, housing, opportunity, basic human need. And the report points out that this decline began in the 1980s with Ronald Reagan and his "greed is good, taxes are bad" mentality that began shifting money from the middle class to the very rich. The "trickle down" theory was a complete hoax. And we now pay the price, with income inequality not seen since the Gilded Age or right before the crash of '29. Arts and culture in Europe and many other places across the developed world receive generous subsidies from government, and they thrive. By thriving, they make better societies for their citizens and more desirable tourist destinations. Just look at some of the statistics in the Harvard study and you can see that life is better in Norway, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Italy, etc. San Diego is experiencing the same decline as other cities, but we have an especially uninspired Mayor and leadership now, to go along with the historic anti-tax-of-any-kind mentality. So we have crumbling infrastructure and yet can entertain subsidizing the Spanos family--the worst kind of corporate welfare--while the opera, theater, museums, and the other highest aspirations of our culture struggle to survive. If we had a reasonable tax base, even at the rates we had during the Clinton years, we could do a lot more for infrastructure, maintenance, etc., as well as education and arts and culture. But the powerful still hold sway: greed is good, and people still think capitalism works. Even in the face of all evidence that it is NOT working very well...
— April 23, 2014 1:41 p.m.