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Family Opera, Inc.

 23 Norris Street
 Cambridge, MA 02140
[P] (617) 354-2797
[F] (617) 354-6123
[email protected]
Claudette Beit-Aharon
 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 31-1792599

LAST UPDATED: 09/07/2017
Organization DBA North Cambridge Family Opera
North Cambridge Family Opera Company
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No


Mission StatementMORE »

The North Cambridge Family Opera is dedicated to telling compelling stories through accessible operas with intergenerational casts; merging poetry, science, and humor to create science lessons in song; and introducing Cambridge students to the joys of composing music and writing librettos.

Mission Statement

The North Cambridge Family Opera is dedicated to telling compelling stories through accessible operas with intergenerational casts; merging poetry, science, and humor to create science lessons in song; and introducing Cambridge students to the joys of composing music and writing librettos.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Sept 01, 2016 to Aug 31, 2017
Projected Income $90,450.00
Projected Expense $101,250.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Family Opera
  • Science Cantata
  • Songwriting Workshops
  • Special Programs with Visiting Artists

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

The North Cambridge Family Opera is dedicated to telling compelling stories through accessible operas with intergenerational casts; merging poetry, science, and humor to create science lessons in song; and introducing Cambridge students to the joys of composing music and writing librettos.

Background Statement

North Cambridge Family Opera (NCFO) is a non-profit, community-based organization that produces contemporary, high quality operas for audiences of all ages, sung by casts that range from six to senior citizens. NCFO was officially founded in 1999.

NCFO produces a family opera each spring, with up to 180 adults and children participating. The operas are fully-staged productions with work primarily done by our volunteers. There are eight performances of each opera, with a total audience of about 2000.

In the spring of 2007, NCFO performed Lifetime: Songs of Life and Evolution, a “science cantata” (a science lesson in song), as part of the first Cambridge Science Festival (CSF). NCFO assembled a chorus of 80 adults and children for three performances during the weeklong Festival. The response from audience, participants, and CSF organizers was so positive that the Festival Chorus is now an annual event. Each year, NCFO assembles and/or commissions a group of songs about some scientific field. The songs are in various styles with lyrics that are poetic and scientifically accurate.

         Since 2006, NCFO has led an outreach program to bring composers and librettists into the community. NCFO sponsors performances and lectures by these visiting artists. Since 2011, we have sponsored hundreds of songwriting workshops in Cambridge Public Schools that support the science curriculum.

Impact Statement

Top Accomplishments in 2017

Produced Springtime for Haman, Cambridge composer David Bass's romantic opera, where Queen Esther risks her life to save her cousin Mordechai and her people from the vengeful Grand Vizier of Persia. With two 50-minute acts of music in both popular and classical styles, it was performed by an intergenerational cast of 130, with an audience of over 2000.
Sponsored 45 songwriting workshops in the Cambridge Public Schools. All songs were related to the science curriculum. Many teachers were new to our song writing workshops.
  1. Produced the science cantata Singing of the Rain: Songs about Weather and Climate, with 19 new songs by 10 composers covering topics as diverse as rain (including weird weather like raining frogs!), tornadoes, the ozone hole (getting smaller!), ocean level rise, the original climate change scientists Fourier, Arrhenius and Keeling, and the distinction between weather and climate.The chorus of 55 members, aged 6 to 80, sang a medley of songs written by CPS students in our songwriting workshops.

Goals for 2018

  1. Produce our newly commissioned family opera, Weedpatch: Hardship Laughter and Song in Dust Bowl Era California. This NCFO commission, with music by Stanford University's Paul Phillips and book and libretto by Grammy winning storyteller Bill Harley, is based on the historical Weedpatch Camp, built and run by Okies who had travelled west and were shunned by Californians.

  2. Produce a new science cantata for the Cambridge Science festival for our 12th year, featuring a larger chorus including Cambridge Public School choruses.

  3. Produce about 45 songwriting workshops in the Cambridge Public Schools, particularly with teachers who haven’t had workshops in the past.

  4. Continue to work on new sources of funding.

Needs Statement

  1. Reliable set-building space: We need a large space for set construction during January and February. We have managed to find unrented commercial space each year, but it is always touch-and-go.

  2. General Operations: Our revenue from donations, ads, concessions, and sponsorships fall short of expenses. We have received very generous grants from the Robbins/de Beaumont Family Foundation for three years, but they fund organizations for only three years, so we need different sources of funding. We need at least $30,000 of grant money and/or sponsorships each year for general operations.

  3. New operas: Few works are appropriate for our cast and audience. We are commissioning a new opera from Paul Phillips of Brown University and Grammy-winning storyteller Bill Harley, but will need a second. We are offering $20,000 for a completely new work.

  4. Performance space: Our current location, the Peabody School in Cambridge, is well located and the auditorium was recently renovated. However, the stage is small and backstage space is very limited. Parking for non-Cambridge residents is problematic. We would like to be able to rent a larger space with adequate parking.

CEO Statement

I founded NCFO in 1999 after composing an opera based on a well-known science fiction story as a way to give my seven-year-old son, whose autism made conventional after-school activities impractical, an opportunity to develop his considerable vocal abilities. A group of 24 singers, consisting of our family and friends, performed Space Opera as part of our neighborhood's open studios weekend. I was moved by the positive effect the experience had on my son and also on relationships within and between other participating families and generations. My wife and I decided to produce a family opera in Cambridge each spring, and NCFO was born. I have now written four family operas and have adapted four other children’s operas by contemporary composers for intergenerational casts. NCFO has transformed the lives of my family, friends, and community.

Board Chair Statement

The CEO/Executive director and the Board Chair/President of NCFO are the same person.

Geographic Area Served


North Cambridge Family Opera primarily serves Cambridge and surrounding communities.  Participants during the past two years have also hailed from Dorchester, Brighton, Brookline, Arlington, Somerville, Newton, Watertown, Lexington, Belmont, Waltham, Medford, Nahant, Quincy, Chestnut Hill, Roslindale, Grafton, Milton, Stow, Wakefield, Wellesley and Worcester. 

Organization Categories

  1. Arts,Culture & Humanities - Opera
  2. Education - Education N.E.C.
  3. Human Services - Human Services NEC

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)



Family Opera

NCFO produces an annual opera which provides a chance for children (age 7 and up) and adults to develop their singing, dancing, and acting. We provide professional instruction for all participants, and everyone has the opportunity to work one-on-one with a professional vocal coach from the Longy School of Music. Though NCFO holds auditions, all applicants are accepted. We help inexperienced singers gain confidence as part of a large chorus, often with a small solo as well. For more gifted and experienced singers, there are principal solo roles and challenging small ensembles. NCFO helps the entire cast develop poise and confidence in performing in front of a large audience. Adults and teenagers also learn new skills by working on set construction, lighting, costumes, props, and makeup. Adults help with publicity and advertising. Everyone learns how complex it is to produce a show.

Budget  $60,000.00
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Opera Performances Presenting
Population Served Families K-12 (5-19 years)
Program Short-Term Success  Short-term success for the family opera involves a successful production, which involves a diverse cast of adults and children of approximately 35% new members and a total audience larger than two thousand.
Program Long-Term Success  NCFO’s ultimate goal is the formation of other family opera groups that will use the operas we have created. Producing an opera is a wonderful experience which strengthens families and builds new relationships. In addition, participants learn new skills beyond singing, including cooperation, group dynamics, and the technical skills needed to mount a production.
Program Success Monitored By  --
Examples of Program Success  The opera production in 2012, Flying High, had a cast of about 150 people. There were many enthusiastic new participants. The house was at least two-thirds full for every performance, and often full. Admission was free with a suggested donation price, and for the second year we collected approximately as much money that way as we had by explicitly selling tickets.

Science Cantata

A Science Cantata is a science lesson in song. We perform annually at the Cambridge Science Festival. Our chorus is intergenerational, open to individuals and families with children as young as five. The chorus works with a professional conductor at weekly rehearsals, which include discussions of the science that is in the songs, giving kids (and adults) a chance to ask questions and share knowledge. For people interested in a cappella and close harmony singing, there is an advanced group that meets after the full chorus to work on more challenging songs. The performances are accompanied by a slide show of art inspired by the music, created by children in the chorus and local school programs. The song lyrics are superimposed on these slides.

Budget  $13,500.00
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Musical Performances
Population Served Families K-12 (5-19 years)
Program Short-Term Success  Short-term success for the Science Cantata involves an annual collections of songs about the annual science theme, sung by a principal chorus of 70 adults and children. We also have Cambridge Public Schools participation in the form of featured school choruses and local students’ artwork in the slideshow.
Program Long-Term Success  Our Science Cantata program’s ultimate goal is for other such choruses to be formed around the country. Working on the engaging music enables participants to learn about various fields of science. Creating the artwork for the accompanying slideshow gives kids, and sometimes adults, a chance to use their studio art skills and imagination, since some concepts are tricky to visualize.
Program Success Monitored By  --
Examples of Program Success  The festival chorus has performed a science cantata at each of the Cambridge Science Festivals (CSF) since its inception in 2007. The response from the performers, audience, and CSF organizers has been very enthusiastic.

Songwriting Workshops

NCFO has sponsored songwriting workshops in the Cambridge Public Schools since 2008. Each year, the instructor leads approximately 45 sessions across the twelve Cambridge public elementary schools. Since 2011, the songs have focused on the students’ science curriculum; since 2013, a medley of some of their songs have been performed by our Cambridge Science Festival chorus.

Budget  $7,500.00
Category  Education, General/Other Elementary & Secondary Education
Population Served Children Only (5 - 14 years)
Program Short-Term Success  Short-term success involves leading 45 songwriting sessions in the Cambridge Public Schools year, with veteran and new teachers.
Program Long-Term Success  Long-term success involves the incorporation of our songwriting workshops as a standing part of elementary science and music education, as well as integrating songs written in the workshops into the regular science curriculum. Learning through these songs leaves children with long-term knowledge of basic science concepts.
Program Success Monitored By  --
Examples of Program Success  We have gotten many comments from teachers saying that the workshops were a wonderful experience; the kids loved it, and often wanted to sing their song for many weeks. In one kindergarten classroom, the students wrote a second verse to their song and sang it at a parent breakfast two weeks after the workshop.

Special Programs with Visiting Artists

NCFO sponsors a lecture or performance by a librettist or composer of the current year’s opera or science cantata, providing a chance for the NCFO community and other locals to learn about their work.

Budget  $3,000.00
Category  Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other
Population Served Adults K-12 (5-19 years)
Program Short-Term Success  Short-term success involves producing an event that generates interest in our mission.
Program Long-Term Success  Long-term success involves the people of Cambridge and Greater Boston becoming ever more interested in NCFO, opera, and science cantatas as new musical formats. Audiences will learn more about the composers of these works.
Program Success Monitored By  --
Examples of Program Success  In 2009, we hosted an evening with William Radice, the librettist of Weaver’s Wedding, a family opera based on a Bengali folktale. The event was held at a local Indian restaurant, where everyone enjoyed a delicious dinner and a compelling talk about adapting a folktale for the stage. We have also had evenings in other years with David Bass, our founder, who composed four of our operas.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments



CEO/Executive Director Dr. David Bass
CEO Term Start Sept 2001
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience --
Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
-- -- --


Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --


Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? No
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --



CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 0
Number of Part Time Staff 2
Number of Volunteers 200
Number of Contract Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate % 100%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 3
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 8
Caucasian: 87
Hispanic/Latino: 2
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 59
Male: 41
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? No
Years Strategic Plan Considers --
Management Succession Plan No
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures No
Nondiscrimination Policy Under Development
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy --
State Charitable Solicitations Permit --
State Registration --

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? N/A
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency No N/A
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency No N/A
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency No N/A


Board Chair Dr. David Bass
Board Chair Company Affiliation N/A
Board Chair Term Sept 2001 -
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Dr. David Bass Community Volunteer Voting
Mr. Phil Budne Community Volunteer Voting
Mr. Chris Edel community volunteer Voting
Dr. Susan Hall Community Volunteer Voting
Mr. Tom Hamill Community Volunteer Voting
Ms. Heather Hoffman community volunteer Voting
Mr. Mark Jaquith Community Volunteer Voting
Ms. Hope Kelley Community Volunteer Voting
Dr. Kathy Lindsay Community Volunteer Voting
Ms. Carla Procaskey Community Volunteer NonVoting
Mr. David Sandberg Community Volunteer Voting
Ms. Aimee Yermish community volunteer Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 13
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 6
Male: 7
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths --
Board Term Limits --
Board Meeting Attendance % --
Written Board Selection Criteria No
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy No
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation No

Standing Committees


CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Fiscal Year Sept 01, 2016 to Aug 31, 2017
Projected Income $90,450.00
Projected Expense $101,250.00
Form 990s

2016 Form 990

2015 Form 990

2014 Form 990

2013 Form 990

2012 Form 990

2011 Form 990

2010 Form 990

2009 Form 990

2008 Form 990

Audit Documents --
IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Revenue $56,244 $62,978 $77,488
Total Expenses $72,692 $61,458 $79,168

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions $41,571 $54,960 $57,739
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue $7,319 $4,776 $14,045
Investment Income, Net of Losses $24 $27 $36
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events -- -- --
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other $7,330 $3,215 $5,668

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Program Expense $58,630 $61,458 $62,809
Administration Expense $14,062 -- $16,359
Fundraising Expense -- -- --
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 0.77 1.02 0.98
Program Expense/Total Expenses 81% 100% 79%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 0% 0% 0%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Assets $37,512 $47,790 $46,270
Current Assets $37,512 $47,790 $46,270
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Current Liabilities $6,170 $0 $0
Total Net Assets $31,342 $47,790 $46,270

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy N/A
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? 7.00

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 6.08 -- --

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

Current Year Projected Revenue and Expenses above does not include any anticipated revenue from The Boston Foundation, but does reflect a total of $29,500 in grants received from the following:

  Robbins / de Beaumont Foundation ($25,000)
  Cambridge Community Foundation ($2,500)
  Cambridge Arts Council ($2,000) 

Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in charts and graphs are per the organization's IRS 990s, with the break of functional expenses per the Form PCs on file with the state of MA. Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.


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5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?