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Washington National Opera Cuts Nine Jobs

By Anne Midgette
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Washington National Opera has eliminated nine staff positions as part of a company-wide reorganization. The news was confirmed, in effect, by the company's former head of public relations, Bruce Loving, whose position was one of the jobs affected.

"We felt we didn't need a full-time person" in that role, said Mark Weinstein, who took over as the company's executive director -- a position that had been vacant since 2002 -- in February.

Some of the jobs were eliminated through attrition, Weinstein said. Among the other jobs was the position of chief financial officer/chief operating officer, formerly held by Richard Johnson. "We felt that position could be absorbed," Weinstein said.

"The idea is to take what is basically overhead to the company and re-target that overhead toward two things," he said. "The positions that were eliminated were all in marketing or HR or computers, not on the artistic side. I want every dollar that we have to go onstage rather than behind the stage. And I'm probably adding to our development staff because I think we need more senior fundraisers."

Weinstein was previously the general director of the Pittsburgh Opera, where he eliminated a long-standing deficit, something he is taking concrete steps to do in Washington as well.

The Washington National Opera employs more than 100 people. Its operating budget is about $32 million.

"This is a way of becoming a slimmer and more effective opera administration," Weinstein said.

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