Last year's opera gala netted just under $100,000, and Jackson expects the March 5th gala celebrating artistic director Willie Anthony Waters' 25th anniversary with Connecticut Opera to bring in more.
"The deficit was inherited," says Jackson, who began at Connecticut Opera in 2002. "Before it constantly felt like having this albatross. Now we have the ability to get ahead of ourselves."
Encouraging news came in a nearly sold-out production of "Aida" last October and a subscription renewal rate of 56 percent, five points ahead of where Connecticut Opera was last year.
Sales of electronic books increased by more than 50 percent in 2004, according to year-end figures released by the Association of American Publishers, making that small but rapidly expanding category the strongest in sales growth last year. The group is the principal trade association for the U.S. book publishing industry and tracks sales of books from the major commercial book publishers in the United States, as well as smaller and medium-size houses, nonprofit publishers, university presses and scholarly societies.
Sales of adult hardcover books were up by 6.3 percent in 2004. Adult paperback sales grew by 2.9 percent last year, but the adult mass market book category dropped by 8.9 percent.
Despite a huge 90.5 percent sales gain in December, a good month for gift purchases, hardcover children's and young adult books sales finished the year 16.7 percent lower than in 2003. The comparable paperback category rose by 3.9 percent in 2004.
Audio book sales dropped a fraction of a percent, and religious books had a 5.6 percent sales gain. Books from university presses dropped, by 7.8 percent for hardcover books and 11.4 percent for soft covers.
Locally, the UConn Co-Op on the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs did well in book sales in 2004, says Suzy Staubach, manager of its general books division.
Holiday sales were good, Staubach says, and buyers were interested in the many books published on politics and the Iraq war.
Sarah Bedell, the owner of Bookworm in West Hartford Center, says that 2004 was "a great year despite the lack of a new Harry Potter." She says that her independent bookstore is seeing "better and better" sales of books for children, especially the picture book "Danielle At the Wadsworth" by Alma Jones Collins of West Hartford, which focuses on the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.
She is feeling upbeat about 2005, Bedell says, and is expecting the release of a new Harry Potter novel in July to continue the strong sales of books for young audiences.
Courant arts writers Frank Rizzo, Deborah Hornblow, Matthew Erikson, Eric R. Danton, Carole Goldberg and Donna Larcen wrote this story.