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Napa Valley Opera House’s Next Chapter Includes Plans for Endowment with Proceeds from Strategic Partnership or Sale of the Historic Site

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The Board of Trustees of the Napa Valley Opera House plans to form a community performing arts endowment to provide consistent annual funding for arts in the Napa Valley if a strategic partner willing to purchase the Opera House in a partnership format comes forward in the coming months. This decision stems from years of providing community programming at the historic Main Street site in Napa, while also maintaining the building. The Board is finding it more and more difficult to fund diverse programming at the level we would like.

“It’s an exciting and bittersweet time for us,” said DJ Smith, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “Owning and maintaining the property while simultaneously attempting to produce community performing arts has not proved to be sustainable. We believe we can be successful by creating an endowment from a strategic partnership or the proceeds of a sale, to provide non-profit art organizations with much needed funds for programming.”  Funds from either option would provide the foundation for the Board to create an endowment to support a diverse performing arts programs in perpetuity.

The Opera House has two performing arts levels. On the first floor, our tenant Blue Note Napa has successfully found a formula that brings world class musical talent to Napa. “We are thrilled with the Blue Note Napa’s success and its contribution to our culture. The phenomenal acts along with good cuisine has been a winner for the Opera House and for Napa Valley”, said Smith. The second floor of the Opera House is the JaM Cellars Ballroom which has undergone many transformations.  Prior Boards have tried several business models they hoped would be financially profitable but nothing has proved sustainable.  Once the seats were removed, the ballroom had the  flexibility to be configured into various performance set ups and the Ballroom finally found some success. Now, meetings, events, fundraisers along with concerts, plays and other performing arts can be held at the Opera House. While the transformation into a Ballroom has helped, revenues from those events are not keeping up with the costs to maintain the building. “We would love to do some remodeling and upgrading but its not in the cards for us”, said Smith. “The revenue from our upstairs doesn’t bring in the dollars we need to upgrade  the premises or underwrite a full program of quality performances.”

He added, “We want local folks to know that the historic parts of the 1890 Opera House will be preserved in any agreement with a strategic partner going forward and that we will also maintain our rights to produce a healthy number of performing art events aimed at serving our Napa Valley community.”

“This is why the endowment is so exciting and is the appropriate next chapter for us. We believe the building is an opportunity for someone to create a great venue space while the Board will have the opportunity to provide the funding for local programs and acts that might not otherwise be able to come to the Valley, a win/win,” said Smith adding that, “We are confident with the right strategic partner or new owner, we can provide the community with much needed performing arts funding while maintaining this historic treasure.”

The local commercial real estate firm of Strong & Hayden has been retained by the Board to secure proposals for this partnership that could include a sale of the building, option to purchase, or other innovative partnership options that specifically meet the Board’s goals and keep this historic jewel operational for future generations. To learn more about this legacy property should contact Michael Holcomb at mholcomb@stronghayden.com.

Questions addressed to the Board of Trustees should be directed to Pam Simpson at admin@nvoh.org.