Townsend Opera is pleased to announce that General and Artistic Director Matthew Buckman has agreed to a three-year contract extension that will keep him with the company through the end of the 2016/17 season.
Mr. Buckman joined the company in February 2008 as its first Executive Director, and became General and Artistic Director in July 2012. In the past year, Mr. Buckman has successfully negotiated a new artistic partnership with Fresno Grand Opera that allows both companies to improve their sustainability, served as a facilitator at Opera America’s annual conference leading seminars for General Directors of small opera companies across the country, has served as an advisor to numerous arts organizations throughout northern California, and was recently selected by Opera America to lead a consortium of northern California opera companies.
John Mangelos, President of the Board of Directors, said: “We are very happy that Matt has committed another three years to Townsend Opera. His work has begun to garner national attention for our company, and he is now recognized as a leader in the field throughout the region. The Board of Directors is very excited about his artistic vision for the company, and we eagerly await what our future with Matt will bring.
“We also applaud Matt’s commitment to the company and our community. He has refused a pay increase the board unanimously voted to award him for his work over the past seven years, requesting instead that those funds be used to continue our investment in quality opera for our community.”
Matthew Buckman, General and Artistic Director, said: “I am grateful to the Board of Directors for continuing to support the work we are doing for our community and for opera as an art form. We have accomplished much of what we set out to do when I came to the company nearly seven years ago, and I am confident we can finish our transition into one of the leading arts organizations in the Central Valley over the next couple of seasons.”
Mr. Buckman has successfully led the company through the transition from its founding director, its opening seasons in the Gallo Center for the Arts, and the Great Recession of 2009. Mr. Buckman’s tenure includes groundbreaking partnerships with Fresno Grand Opera, CSU Stanislaus, Modesto Junior College, and San Francisco Opera, implementing higher artistic standards for the company, and launching new artistic initiatives aimed at bringing opera into the 21st century.
For more information, please call the Townsend Opera office at 209.523.6426.
About Matthew Buckman
Matthew Buckman became the first Executive Director of Townsend Opera in February 2008 at the age of twenty-six, and has served as General and Artistic Director since July 2012. He has led a major revitalization of the company during his tenure by significantly improving artistic standards, developing successful partnerships with regional arts organizations, streamlining operations, moving to a larger theater, and developing progressive and creative artistic programs.
Matthew is a highly sought after arts grant writer, artistic administrator, and project manager, having successfully written major grants for some of the premier arts funders in the country. He is regularly engaged to manage artistic events and projects throughout Northern California. Matthew is also a contributor to The Loose Filter Project, an arts think tank focused on creating wider cultural engagement for concert music and musicians.
Under Matthew’s leadership, Townsend Opera developed and implemented its first long-term strategic plan, completed a major staff reorganization, and recruited the company’s first professional production team. In 2009, Matthew initiated and developed artistic partnerships with CSU Stanislaus and Modesto Junior College Departments of Music, and San Francisco Opera that have led to new heights of artistic excellence, and developed partnerships with health and human services organizations to expand the impact of the company in the community.
In 2010, Matthew completely overhauled the company’s production model, and moved the company from performing in a 440-seat theater to a 1,200-seat theater in the Gallo Center for the Arts. This move doubled ticket capacity while reducing expenses, allowing the company to invest further in artistic quality while increasing accessibility by significantly reducing ticket prices. These changes led to a 32% increase in attendance in the first season alone, and paved the way for ongoing artistic growth.
In 2011, Matthew developed and implemented the Opera Remix Initiative, an artistic initiative designed to reconnect opera to the modern world by embracing cultural norms of the 21st century and experimenting with mode of presentation. The first event of the initiative, Opera Remix: Musical Worlds Collide at The State, featured the best of opera and classic rock, all performed by opera singers and written for a 15-piece rock orchestra. The first event nearly tripled the audience of the event it replaced, and subsequent events have continued to engage new audiences in new environments.
In 2012, Matthew launched a new video series titled Opera911!, which brings viewers behind the scenes of the company. The series launched during the company’s January 2012 production of The Mikado, and brought viewers inside the three-week production cycle with daily video releases in the weeks prior to the performance.
Matthew came to Townsend Opera from the Modesto Symphony Orchestra, where he served as Director of Development. During his tenure as Director of Development, Matthew restructured the development department, bringing new philosophies and programs that established a more accessible, donor-centered corporate sponsorship program, increased opportunities for donor engagement, developing and implementing new programs for solicitations, more systematic solicitation of potential donors, and increased planning capabilities. Prior to his appointment as Director of Development, Matthew served as Operations Manager and Development Assistant for the MSO, and Orchestra Manager for the Modesto Symphony Youth Orchestra.