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The Batcher Block Opera House will be operated by a newly-formed nonprofit organization, also known as the Batcher Block Opera House (or Batcher Block Opera House Foundation). The nonprofit will include a board of directors of 10 – 15 people from a variety of backgrounds. The nonprofit will be formed prior to the opening of the Opera House, as they will be involved in the formation of a capital campaign, developing the programming schedule, and the hiring and onboarding of initial staff members. A healthy mix of background will provide for diverse programming that should attract different audiences in the greater Staples-Motely region and beyond.
Initial staffing will include one full-time Executive Director supported by two part-time positions. The part-time positions will increase to full-time in future years of operation pending organizational capacity.
The Executive Director will serve as the face of the organization, leading the capital campaign and directing the necessary strategic planning, oversight, budgeting, and promotions needed in the run-up to the opening of the Opera House. The Executive Director will be hired prior to the opening of the Opera House as funds are available, ideally at least 12 months prior to the opening. In coordination with the Operations Coordinator and Administrative Coordinator, the Executive Director will also develop programming concepts and issue contracts to performers.
Operations Coordinator & Administrative Coordinator
Along with an Executive Director, the Opera House will also require two part-time support positions. The Operations Coordinator will be responsible for space rentals, from off-site corporate meetings to community productions to private rentals. The Administrative Coordinator will assist in the day-to-day operations of the Opera House and issues related to compliance and board relations. Both roles should also start at least six months prior to the opening of the Opera House.
In addition to the staff listed above, the Opera House will contract out specific services in the first few years of operation. These include grant writing (which can also be assigned to active board members with strong grant writing experience), technical direction, and marketing.
The Opera House will employ a number of hourly staff members for event and program management. These positions include audio technicians, stagehands, concessions attendants, and others. Several of these roles will be served by a robust volunteer program; hourly staff will also assist the Operations Coordinator and Administrative Coordinator in volunteer training and management.
A healthy mix of program revenues, as well as a concentrated effort on securing both program-specific and general operating philanthropic support, will contribute to the long-term sustainability of the Batcher Block Opera House.
The Opera House annual buget presents gross revenues comprised of roughly 75% program income or earned revenue (building tours, event ticket sales, rental fees, class registration, and ticketing fees) and 25% unearned (grants, sponsorships, individual donations, and fundraising events). Due to the significant potential for earned income from rental fees, the ratio of earned to unearned revenue is slightly higher but still in line with similarly sized nonprofit arts centers across the state, such as:
- Paramount Center for the Arts in St. Cloud, MN (70% earned revenue, 30% unearned)
- Lake Benton Opera House in Lake Benton, MN (70% earned revenue, 30% unearned)
- The Barn Theatre in Willmar, MN (64% earned revenue, 36% unearned)
Strong partnerships will be vital for the long-term success of the Opera House. Partnerships should provide value on both sides, an equation unique to each partnership and requiring dedicated time and attention from both Opera House staff and the board of directors. The Opera House will provide a unique space with a deep history connected to Staples, while partners will support the Opera House with marketing, programming, connecting to new volunteers, fundraising, and opening Opera House doors to new and potentially recurring audiences.
In addition, particular attention should be paid to building partnerships with regional concert promoters and managers. Given Staple’s proximity to both Minneapolis-St. Paul and Fargo, these promoters may have added reason to engage artists for additional concerts in the region. These promoters include First Avenue in Minneapolis and Jade Nielsen Presents in Fargo.
Potential partners include:
- Staples-Motely School District
- Central Lakes College
- Timberlake Hotel
- Lakewood Health Systems
- Five Wings Arts Council
- Region Five Development / Sprout Food Hub
- Lamplighter Community Theatre
- Prairie Fire Children’s Theater
- Staples Area Men’s Choir
- Staples Area Women’s Choir
- Central Minnesota Boys’ Choir
- Colla Voce
- Staples Motley Area Community Foundation
Integral to the success of the Batcher Block Opera House will be a strong marketing presence reaching well beyond the Staples-Motley region to attract audiences from across the state and region. Visitors will mainly be driven by two types of events:
BUILDING TOURS: Offering recurring building tours will attract audiences drawn to the unique architecture and history of the Opera House. A network of existing tour operators and marketers already exists in Minnesota; we recommend building upon the partnerships Colleen Frost has created to ensure the Opera House is considered by these tour operators.
SITE-SPECIFIC PERFORMANCES: With either “Batcher Block Opera House presents” productions or those of outside promoters, a huge selling point to anyone attending the show will be seeing it in such a magnificent space – the difference between that experience and seeing the same act at a club or traditional venue will help attract a wider audience, even including people from places like Fargo and Minneapolis.
In addition, further marketing in year 1 will center around the renovation and opening of the Batcher Block Opera House, and it is anticipated that the initial year of programs will see a corresponding spike in attendance to reflect the interest this will create. A strong membership plan and attention paid to in-venue marketing for future programs will help ensure first-time audiences are aware of and will make plans to attend future programs.
We recommend engaging a marketing specialist on a contract basis for the first year of operations who will focus heavily on reaching statewide and regional audiences.
WHAT: Finalize Formation of Batcher Block Nonprofit and board of directors
WHEN: September 2019
WHO: Melissa Radermacher, Colleen Frost, Steering Committee
WHAT: Hire Executive Director
WHEN: Q3 2020 or sooner as funds are available
WHO: Board of Directors
WHAT: Hire Operations and Administrative Coordinators
WHEN: Q4 2020
WHO: Executive Director, Board of Directors