Wexford Festival Opera Capitalises on its International Reputation
Inaugural fundraising gala in NY raises more than $250,000.
Wexford Festival Opera succeeded in raising more than $250,000 from private donations at its inaugural fundraising event hosted by its recently formed US committee: The American Friends of Wexford Opera (AFWO), chaired by Shane Naughton with Loretta Brennan Glucksman as its Honorary Patron.
Its inaugural Dinner Gala in New York last Wednesday night established a strong foot-hold for the internationally renowned festival State-side, marking the single most lucrative first year private fundraising event abroad by any Irish arts organisation.
The event was the brain-child of Chief Executive David McLoughlin and was eighteen months in the making. Commenting on the event, he said, “The objective for this new North American initiative was not just to raise much needed funds to support the Festival’s important artistic, cultural, community and economic endeavours; but was also aimed at expanding Wexford’s profile, as the opera festival voted third most popular in the World for Opera lovers by Frommer’s travel guide and which was recently shortlisted as best Festival Opera at the International Opera Awards.
As Wexford is one of Ireland’s leading contributors to international cultural tourism, and as one of the country’s few major cultural events with a serious international profile and highly regarded reputation and brand name, it can greatly enhance the numbers of cultural tourists from North America who travel to Wexford each year to enjoy the Festival, but more importantly who will increasingly contribute to the local, regional and national economy.”
The funds raised from the event will be devoted exclusively to this year’s production of the rare and culturally important work Cristina, regina di Svezia by Jacopo Foroni. Donors in advance of the event and on the night were invited to provide much needed funds not just to stage the opera, but also to contribute towards the travel costs of the many North American artists and creative personnel who have travelled to Wexford to participate in this year’s Festival. The proceeds will also assist in subsidising the costs of housing all of these international artists in Wexford, which will have a further direct economic benefit to the local community.
Leading the proceedings for the evening, was Brian Kellow, Features Editor of Opera News and long-time attendee of Wexford Festival Opera. The highlight of the evening was a special and intimate performance by Soprano Angela Meade, one of the leading members of Wexford’s alumnus following her European debut in Wexford in 2010, and who has since gone on to become one of the most successful international opera performers of her generation.
Artistic Director David Agler said, “Angela’s participation in the gala, and endorsement of it, underlined Wexford’s vital role as a spring-board for new and emerging Irish and international talent, and a unique place of discovery of such talent, as well of rare opera works, for the audiences from around the World who travel to Wexford each year.”
Also in attendance were the Consul General of Ireland to the United States, Mr. Noel Kilkenny and his wife Hanora, and former Artistic Director of Wexford Festival Opera and recently retired Head of Opera at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Elaine Padmore, OBE.
Preparations are already under way for next year gala which will now be an annual event.