The late Barton Evans was the former Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer for Dionex Corporation. He was also a trustee for Claremont McKenna College and supported both public and private education through his philanthropy. He discovered opera when he began dating Dr. Andrea Neves in 1981. She made opera attendance a condition of their relationship. It took about three years for Bart to become an opera aficionado, probably because there were no supertitles in those days and the story line was often hard to follow even after one had read the libretto. He suspected others in the audience felt the same.
“I became interested in Opera San José after reading an article in the Mercury News about the remodeling of the California Theatre. I am an engineer and the logistics of the task intrigued me. Andrea and I went to the first opera presented there and I was very impressed. I am a traditionalist,” Bart said. “I prefer the popular operas like Turandot. Sometimes I just like to listen to opera arias rather than entire works.”
Bart and Andrea began to subscribe and donate to OSJ, and attend the opening night dinners. They became acquainted with Irene Dalis, who urged him to come on the board. He told her his concerns regarding the future of OSJ, and in 2012 agreed to contribute his business talent and enthusiasm as an active board member. “Every nonprofit is a three-legged stool,” Bart said. The first leg is the product the organization provides, in this case excellent entertainment. The second leg is supporting the endeavor by raising money. The third leg is being well-run and efficient, like a successful corporation, which requires a strong board. The most challenging part about raising money in Silicon Valley is inspiring younger people to donate. We have hired a Development Director to address that problem, as well.”
Bart was chair of the newly formed Governance Committee and his objective in that position was to involve every board member in both the operation of the board and, even more importantly, fundraising. “We have a three year plan,” he said. “During that time we must concentrate on performing operas that sell tickets, that fill the house. OSJ is extraordinary in all ways: its performers, its fabulous venue, the ease of getting there and parking. This company deserves support because you get a lot for your money: an ageless story, exquisite music, and an organization that spends its money wisely. The operas are high-quality productions with cream-of-the crop singers who are enthusiastic and work well together. It’s so much better than most.”