Bold. Brave. Brilliant.

Arizona Opera’s OnPitch Business Challenge Begins!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The opera company in association with Arizona State University has announced a request for proposals for the innovation competition.


PHOENIX (August 21, 2019) — Arizona Opera has officially announced a request for proposals (RFP) for its OnPitch Business Challenge, a venture capital-inspired competition designed to seek out the most innovative proposals for new earned revenue sources for the company, with $25,000 of prize money to be awarded.

In association with ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona Opera’s OnPitch Business Challenge seeks to revolutionize the art form’s generations-old funding model by working with experts and innovators across multiple fields to identify meaningful new earned revenue sources, thus decreasing reliance on traditional earned and contributed revenue sources. It is the first competition of its kind in the field of opera.

Arizona Opera’s RFP, which launched August 15, invites teams and individual innovators from across the country to present funding concepts designed to create new and novel earned revenue sources for Arizona Opera. The window for submitting competition entries will open on November 1 and close on December 31, 2019. Entrepreneurial experts from the ASU community will then assist with vetting submissions for the competition. Proposals that reach the finals, scheduled April 2020, will then be evaluated by a group of business and thought leaders assembled by Arizona Opera to determine which team and/or individual will be awarded a top cash prize of $25,000.

The OnPitch Business Challenge and its cash prize are made possible by an OPERA America Innovation Grant, supported by the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation. In phase two of the program, the grant provides $100,000 of seed capital, which will be used by Arizona Opera to support the launch of the winning concept, with a goal of generating $1 million in new, annually recurring net earned revenue within four years.

The company’s OnPitch Challenge is seeking wide-ranging solutions—from maximizing revenues of existing company assets (e.g., sets and costumes, LED video wall) to groundbreaking concepts that expand beyond conventional boundaries of the art form. The competition has been inspired in part by companies such as Opera Idaho and Michigan Opera Theatre, and locally by Chicanos Por La Causa, which have implemented their own novel revenue generating operations, supporting those organizations’ ability to fulfill their missions and deliver service to their respective communities.

“In line with the extraordinary creativity demonstrated by Arizona Opera’s artistic program, we are seeking, in partnership with ASU, a new entrepreneurial venture funding approach to supplement and increase the revenues of the company,” said Barry Fingerhut, board member of Arizona Opera and chair of the company’s Funding Innovations Task Force. “Our success will hopefully become the model to financially enhance all US opera companies.”

“Arts organizations such as Arizona Opera are vital to our city, and we celebrate entrepreneurial Arizona organizations that persevere and create their own success,” said Dr. Amy Hillman, the Charles J. Robel Dean of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. “In addition to distributing the national call for proposals through intercollegiate communication channels, the Center for Entrepreneurship at the W. P. Carey School of Business is excited to collaborate on a one-day, student-centric event in support of the OnPitch Challenge. The event gives students the opportunity to engage around brainstorming new business models for the opera, see the challenge, experience workshops, and pitch real solutions.”

About Arizona Opera

Arizona Opera, now in its 47th season, produces fully-staged operas, concerts, and collaborative programs throughout the state of Arizona each season, and is among only a handful of companies in the U.S. that regularly performs in more than one city. Arizona Opera elevates the transformative power of storytelling through music, cultivating community and strengthening a state and people as adventurous and diverse as the place they call home. Since its inaugural year in 1971, Arizona Opera has produced more than 175 fully-staged operas and concerts. The company's artistic history is rich with a blend of operas traditional repertoire featuring baroque, bel canto, and verismo works, turn-of-the-century masterpieces, operettas, and American operas.

About the W. P. Carey School of Business

The W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University is one of the top-ranked business schools in the United States. The school is internationally regarded for its research productivity and its distinguished faculty members, including a Nobel Prize winner. Students come from more than 100 countries and W. P. Carey is represented by alumni in over 160 countries. Visit

About Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute

ASU’s Herberger Institute is the largest comprehensive design and arts school in the country, built on a combination of disciplines unlike any other program nationally and located within a dynamic research university focused on transformative change. Design and arts at ASU comprises the School of Art; the School of Arts, Media and Engineering; The Design School; the School of Film, Dance and Theatre; and the School of Music, as well as the ASU Art Museum. The Herberger Institute is committed to redefining the 21st-century design and arts school through developing and scaling ideas to strengthen the role of designers and artists across all areas of society and culture and to increase the capacity of artists to make a difference in their communities. Visit