04/16/2012 02:52 pm ET

Michigan Opera Theatre Asks For Public Support To Pay Off $6 Million Debt (PHOTOS)

One of Detroit's cultural institutions is working quickly to raise $6 million by May 31. The Michigan Opera Theatre, which has already raised $5 million from its board and trustees in a quiet push to repay a standing loan, is now asking the community for help.

The MOT, started in 1971, is one of the 10 largest opera companies in the nation, and it operates out of the historic Detroit Opera House, opened as the Capitol Theater in 1922.

"Once we raise this money we will be debt-free and will be able to be sustainable operationally," said Jeff Strayer, spokesman for the MOT.

The debt comes from a parking structure built around 2002, according to Strayer, which was planned to give Opera House patrons -- some 300,000 people, annually -- a place to park as new sports stadiums crowded downtown lots. Strayer said the MOT's payment plan was affected by the economic downturn.

"We've already made a lot of cuts to make our business sustainable," he added. According to the Detroit Free Press, the MOT already has cut 20 percent of its budget, which now stands at $10 million annually.

The bank agreed to forgive $7 million of MOT's outstanding debt, and while the cultural institution would likely be able to refinance a portion of the existing debt, Strayer told The Huffington Post MOT hopes to come as close to the necessary $6 million as possible.

"We're confident that we can make the goal if the community supports us," he said.

For more information about the Michigan Opera Theatre, including how to donate, see the organization's website.

Below, take a closer look at the historic Detroit Opera House.

Michigan Opera Theatre At The Detroit Opera Hous