In an industry so steeped in rich and glorious tradition, it is difficult to face the idea of change. Many of us - companies and patrons alike - are starting to adapt to changing tastes in the presentation of classical music and opera, but we neglect the other big part of the equation: the business model. This is where MESS is different.
MESS IS A 501(c)(3) NON-PROFIT COMPANY
When Ben and Lachlan met in 2013, they dreamt of a sustainable opera company that engages people like them (aka Millenials), and provides a home and sanctuary for world-class artists in a cut-throat city. "Sustainable?" Isn't that an impossible goal? Absolutely not! We have developed a membership-based, private concert-focused business model with a realistic plan for sustainability within 10 years. In doing so, we dissected the financial statements of almost every major classical performing arts company in the United States, consulted with leading administrators, and took nothing for granted.
We questioned every component of the status quo. But this doesn't mean that we threw away everything of the past and reinvented the wheel; on the contrary, we looked honestly at what is working (because there is a lot that is), and where, and pieced together a model that we believe is the future. A model that reduces inefficiencies in all areas, including administrative structure, artist contracting, development, and production. A model that places a premium on innovation; for example, using technology to connect with our members so that we can gain real user data and make strategic moves based on facts rather than whims.
We want to take the guesswork out of this business and acknowledge the basic rules of economics, to which many companies seem to believe themselves blissfully immune. At MESS, we believe it is entirely possible to entice and satisfy audiences without compromising artistic quality. In fact, we pride ourselves on the fact that our artistic quality is as high - if not higher - as anything else you can find in NYC. Many of our artists are regularly featured on the stages of the major opera houses and concert halls of the world. Others are almost unknown, but just as talented. So how do we contract top talent to a little startup company in Manhattan? It's simple: we take care of them. We listen to what they want - not what we think they want, but what they actually want - and do our best to make it possible. The world-class artists you find on our site, and experience at our events, are proud to be the face of a company that is asking the right questions, providing an playground for artists like them, and bringing the classical arts - finally - into the 21st century.
Ever heard the adage "You need to spend money to make money?" That perfectly sums up our current status. We want to eventually not have to rely on individual annual donations, and plan to cover our budget by membership fees, ticket sales, and - eventually - the return on investment from an endowment. These lofty goals may seem idealistic, but they are entirely realistic if - and only if - we continue to raise the money we need over the next few years to make the capital investments necessary to truly get this new model flying. We have a lot of people helping us out and giving us services at a discount (you know who you are - THANK YOU!), but there are many services that we still need to pay for, including things like software development, artist fees and production expenses, legal/accounting/administrative fees, insurance, etc... the list goes on... and comes out to over half a million dollars in FY2019.
Granted, as we gain visibility and our membership base grows, our earned revenue will continue to increase, more and more foundations will (hopefully) believe in what we are doing and want to help us out, and we will rely less on individual annual donations. But that is still several years away, and what we need more than anything else at this point is cold, hard cash. All donations to MESS are 100% tax-deductible, as we are a 501(c)(3) organization.
DONATE TO MESS
Please make checks payable to MESS and mail to:
PO Box 30905
New York, NY
Our mission is to harness the social power of the classical performing arts. We strive to build the ideal platform for the world’s best artists to connect with their audiences, to lower the cost of experimentation for new audiences, and to build a sustainable future for classical art and artists.