Thursday, October 1, 2009

Letter to the Santa Fe Opera Director, Charles MacKay

Dear Mr. MacKay,

I was truly shocked to learn that you have sold the gas and oil exploration rights to land co-owned by the Santa Fe Opera in San Miguel County.

You have justified the move by citing an obligation to continue programs for young opera apprentices. But you are robbing Peter to pay Paul. How can you protect one group of young people while jeopardizing the health and well being of other young people, the ones who live in Mora and San Miguel counties? That is hypocrisy indeed.

If the Santa Fe Opera needs money so badly, why did you not first put out a fund drive and appeal to all of your supporters?

If, after considering all options, you felt compelled to lease the rights, why did you not insist on stringent environmental safeguards?

It is pointless to speculate whether you would have sold the right to drill right underneath and around the Santa Fe Opera to these ruthless companies, because wiser, more principled heads than yours have prevailed in Santa Fe County, making it illegal. So you exploited a poorer, less educated county, instead. Your action speaks volumes about the elitist attitudes some people ascribe to urban cultural institutions. Let a county where the folks are poorer and less
educated take the pollution, the ugliness, the terrible health hazards leading to untimely deaths and disease. Let us take the money.

I hope you realize that you made a terrible mistake. I urge you to say so publicly; to apologize to all those you have offended and all those you will be wounding in the future with your actions; and to see what you can do to make amends. My husband and I love the opera, but no longer the Santa Fe Opera. I am sure there are many like us.


Ellen Coon
Golondrinas, New Mexico