aka Fort Worth Opera   |   Fort Worth, TX   |


The mission of Fort Worth Opera is to educate, entertain, and expand the horizons of current and future audiences and artists through variety and artistic integrity.

Ruling year info


General Director

Ms. Afton Battle

Artistic Director

Mr. Joseph Illick

Main address

505 Pecan Street, Suite 100

Fort Worth, TX 76102 USA

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NTEE code info

Opera (A6A)

Secondary/High School (B25)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Fort Worth Opera Main Stage Productions

Founded on the belief that Fort Worth deserves great art, we maintain a proud reputation of honoring the history & future of the art form by producing timeless classics, alongside diverse, exciting new works by living composers.

Population(s) Served

Part of FWO's larger Education program, Children’s Opera Theatre (COT), founded in 1972, presents mini-operas to North Texas students during the school year Teachers receive pre-planned TEKS-aligned lessons and student study guides providing information about opera, helping prepare students for the performance. The 2021-2022 season features operas that had limited runs in prior seasons due to the pandemic: Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World (world premiere Nov. 2019), based on a children's book about Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Stone Soup (world premiere Nov. 2020), based on a European folktale with a Texas twist that illuminates the value of sharing. All programming may be presented live or virtually.

Fort Worth Opera dedicated to expanding the horizons of young people across the state of Texas, with concentrated efforts across the North Texas area.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Fort Worth Opera's mobile performance initiative that brings free opera performances by our Lesley Resident Artists and Studio Artists to communities across North Texas.

Population(s) Served

FWO Green Room is a new digital initiative to take FWO global! As opera companies across the globe started to explore innovative ways to connect with audiences and build dynamic relationships through technology during the COVID-19 pandemic, FWO offered - and continues to offer - our audience an exciting blend of entertaining and interactive online content. Exhilarating performances by our Lesley Resident Artists and friends of FWO, seminars, masterclasses, a two-night libretto workshop with an all-star panel of artists, an inspirational choral project featuring the stunning Fort Worth Opera Chorus, and round-table discussions with some of the most remarkable luminaries of the opera world are some of what FWO Green Room offers.

As part of our digital offerings, audiences can tune in to FWO Salon, FWO's new podcast featuring thrilling discussions with opera's brightest, most brilliant stars, hosted by FWO Artistic Director, Maestro Joe Illick.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Affiliations & memberships

OPERA America

Texas Opera Alliance 2020

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Total number of performances

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served


Related Program

Fort Worth Opera Main Stage Productions

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

This is the total number of performances for all Festival opera productions.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Founded in 1946, Fort Worth Opera is the oldest continually performing opera company in Texas, and one of the 14 oldest opera companies in the United States. We maintain a proud reputation of honoring the history & future of the art form. The organization has received national attention from critics and audiences alike for its artistic excellence.

Fort Worth Opera's passion is to become recognized internationally as an organization which preserves and expands the transcending art of opera.

In addition to producing and promoting great live art at both a local and widescale level, Fort Worth Opera seeks to be a community resource, encouraging dialogue across North Texas' diverse cultures and social strata.

The operas produced during the annual Fort Worth Opera Festival range in style, size, age, message, native language, and cultural heritage. The Festival takes place in the middle of Spring, so as not to compete with Fort Worth's neighboring company The Dallas Opera and to provide residents of North Texas with continued opportunities to experience diverse and transformative works of live art.

Fort Worth Opera works tirelessly to produce works that are both relevant to its community, enjoyable for its patrons, and challenging enough to encourage growth in its audiences. Beginning in 2017, the organization launched Noches de Ópera (Nights of Opera), a groundbreaking campaign which introduces powerful operas in Spanish, each reflecting the diverse cultures of new American audiences.

Fort Worth Opera strives to make opera accessible to everyone. Children's education programs introduce opera, provide TEKS-aligned opportunities to strengthen participating school's arts education, and even invite students to witness opera productions in the final stages of rehearsal. Adult education opportunities and bilingual Spanish-English supertitles ensure that operagoers can appreciate a show regardless of language barriers.

Fort Worth Opera is grateful for robust community support in the form of family and corporate foundations, government grants, and remarkably passionate patrons. In the spring of 2007, Fort Worth Opera restructured its season from a year-long 'stagione' model to a four-week Festival format. The Fort Worth Opera Festival has since become a top cultural attraction in North Texas and a must-see for opera lovers nationwide.

Fort Worth Opera has pivoted its focus towards long-term sustainability here within Fort Worth, Texas. The company is fortunate to have a world-class staff that achieves remarkable results within a modest operating budget. This imaginative organization will certainly transform any level of increased support into an entertainment, an education, and an experience like no other.

New leadership as of August 1, 2017 has focused on the following strategies to balance Fort Worth Opera’s budget:
· Fiscal responsibility and streamline expenditures
· Reduce administrative costs and overhead
· More economical space/facilities
· Continue presenting a balanced repertoire of opera classics and contemporary works
· Re-direct administrative savings to program and educational outreach activities
· Increase mid-level donor contributions
· Increasing visibility across social media platforms
· Continue development of outcomes and program evaluation systems

Ticket sales account for less than 20% of Fort Worth Opera’s operating budget. Therefore, the organization heavily depends on comprehensive fundraising efforts and charitable giving. Fort Worth Opera’s development team has been rebuilt since the start of new leadership, and they work closely with the General Director and Board of Trustees in the planning and implementation of fundraising activities including electronic appeals, institutional and corporate giving, direct mail and monthly giving campaigns, special events, and strategic donor cultivation. Fort Worth Opera enjoys generous community support, not only from devoted patrons, but through foundations, corporations, and other partnering organizations.



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.


Board of directors
as of 09/02/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Dr. Ryan Krause

Texas Christian University (TCU)

Term: 2021 -

Jill Fischer

No Affiliation

Kris Lindsay

Community Volunteer

John Sutton

KL Gates

Kenny Fischer

Harbison Fischer

Jo Ann Patton

Retired Accountant, Lockheed Martin; Community Volunteer

G. Whitney Smith

Owner, Whitney Smith and Co.

Nelson E. Claytor

President, Fresnel Technologies Inc

Ed Schollmaier

Former Alcon CEO

Megan Ruth Bowdon

Bowdon Family Foundation

David Bucher

Hobbs Charitable Trust

Robert S. Capper

Louise B. Carvey

Juana Rosa Daniell

Lee B. Freese

Freese and Nichols Inc.

Jennifer Goldberg

Robert Jameson

Visit Fort Worth

Joseph D. Lesley

Hattie May Leslie Foundation

Bond Malone

Plains Capital

H. Lee Nelson

Rita V. O'Farrell

Mary Pencis

Vernon Rew

Whitaker Chalk

Barbara Jordan

John Forestner

Emily Stephenson

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 8/31/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American
Gender identity

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 08/31/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.