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September 15, 2008
$40 million gift to SF Opera

Location, location, location...

That familiar retort explains a lot in the business of real estate. And it explains how an opera company like the San Francisco Opera can keep pulling rabbits out of its hat in the major gifts category.

Nothing opens up pockets like the immediacy of geography. And when you're San Francisco you've got an enviable demographic from which to call on for major gifts.

That became abundantly clear this past week when the San Francisco Opera announced
the whopping $40 million gift from philanthropists John and Cynthia Gunn. John Gunn is chairman and CEO of Dodge and Cox Investment Managers. He's also board chair of the San Francisco Opera Association.

The gift represents the largest single gift ever received by San Francisco Opera, and is easily one of the largest ever made to any opera company by an individual. The gift surpasses the blockbuster $35 million gift by patron Jeannik Mequet Littlefield in 2006.

The best thing about this gift is that a major portion of the funds are slated to underwrite new special artistic projects, including the commissioning of new operas.

This all makes you wonder about Sacramento.

It makes you wonder who would ever step up here in a big way with a major gift.

Will anyone in the region take up the mantle of "super-patron" to allow a company like the Sacramento Opera the enviable freedom to commission new operatic works?

Location and demographics aside, it shouldn't be a far-fetched notion.

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