The City Opera House in downtown Traverse City.

As I reflect on the past year, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the “family” that makes City Opera House the premier performing arts and community gathering place in downtown Traverse City.

While the word limit on this column prevents me from listing each individual, business, foundation, and grantor by name, I want to take the opportunity to acknowledge their collective contributions and support, which allow our region to boast a vibrant and robust arts and culture scene.

We are blessed to live in a generous and supportive community. It is one of the key ingredients that makes the region a special place to call home. As a nonprofit that brings high quality entertainment to the area, we rely on a diverse set of resources to maintain the day-to-day operations and long-term financial health of the Victorian-era theater.

For example, we are fortunate to have the support of a local hotel, restaurant and car dealership, which provide rooms, food and ground transportation for visiting artists. Without their support, the costs to bring acts to northern Michigan would increase considerably. Instead, through their generosity and community commitment, we are able to offset a number of performer expenses, allowing for top notch entertainment at affordable prices.

We are also grateful for our two title sponsors whose contributions support our Performing Arts series, annual arts education programming and Live @ City Opera House series. They are among the 22 businesses that sponsor programming that City Opera House contracts and presents. These sponsorships, in both cash and trade for services, demonstrate the widespread community support for the performing arts, and it is our privilege to publicly thank and acknowledge them in our programs, theatre and beyond.

In addition to local businesses, there are also more than 1,100 individual philanthropists and donors who provide monthly donations, make annual contributions, provide gifts of stock, etc. Ticket sales only account for about 45 percent of the revenue needed for annual operations, so we rely on the support of donors who recognize City Opera House as an effective, caring and high functioning organization worthy of their support. Donors are key to unlocking the power of the arts, and we could not be more grateful for each and every person who contributes.

We also cannot sing loudly enough the praises of our dedicated team of volunteers. We have more than 100 volunteers who usher, take tickets, work will call, stuff mailings, and help decorate the building for the holidays. Whatever the task, and whenever we ask, volunteers step forward to lend a hand.

In fact, their contributions in hours this season are equivalent to one and a half full time staff.

We are fortunate we can rely on volunteer support to help you have the best possible experience, and for that, we are forever grateful.

Lastly, to those individuals, schools, organizations, and businesses that rent space from the Opera House for events and who call our theater “home,” you make this gem the community gathering space it was intended to be when it was constructed almost 130 years ago.

We are proud to serve our region in this way and love being the place where special events and memorable moments happen.

As we look to the future, we begin with gratitude for every member of our City Opera House family.

If you aren’t already a member, we invite you to join by attending a show, becoming a volunteer or sponsor, or by making a donation. In turn, we commit to continuing to serve as your home away from home.

Diane Baribeau is the executive director of the City Opera House. Email her at

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