Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Achieves Balanced Budget
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Awards $550,000 to BSO for Artistic and Audience Development Initiatives
Baltimore, Md. (January 16, 2008) —The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra today announced its first balanced budget in five years for the fiscal year ending August 31, 2007 (2006-2007 concert season), posting an operating surplus of $4,000, before non-cash expenses, transfers and pension-related accounting charges. The Orchestra also recently received another piece of good news from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which has awarded the Baltimore Symphony a $550,000 grant to support artistic and access initiatives during the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 seasons.
Symphony officials cite several factors that made possible the balanced budget of approximately $26 million including a surge in fundraising, widely expressed enthusiasm for the arrival of Music Director Marin Alsop, tighter fiscal controls, and new board and administrative leadership. In March 2006, the BSO Board of Directors approved a one-time transfer of approximately $63 million in restricted endowment funds from its then $90 million endowment, into a separate 501(c)(3) trust to be managed by an independent Board of Trustees. The remaining $27 million in unrestricted endowment funds was used to eliminate the Orchestra’s outstanding debt and create a working cash reserve. This significant action taken by the board demonstrated to BSO donors and to the wider community the Orchestra’s enduring commitment to preserve existing endowment funds and to facilitate future fundraising.
The Orchestra raised record annual fund contributions in the 2006-2007 season, $12.3 million, which was a 35% increase over the previous season and expanded the donor base by 10%. The unprecedented annual giving was spurred by a generous $1 million matching challenge grant from The Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds. Announced in December 2006, the Meyerhoff Challenge Grant generated an additional $1.65 million in financial support. In addition, gifts from the 33-strong board of directors charted a one-year increase of 27%. The audit of the Orchestra’s 2007 financial report was conducted by the certified public accounting firm, McGladrey & Pullen, LLP.
“The 2006-2007 season was a pivotal year for the BSO,” said board chairman Michael Bronfein. “At the start of last season, this organization was facing perhaps its greatest challenge ever: to get our financial house in order and prove to our patrons and donors that it is possible to achieve both artistic excellence and innovation, and operate within a balanced budget. After five years of deficits, a balanced budget is a major accomplishment, only made possible through the efforts of our staff and board, sacrifices from the orchestra musicians and of course, the generosity of our donors.”
$300,000 of the Orchestra’s award from the Mellon Foundation will help underwrite one of Marin Alsop’s banner initiatives in her first season as Music Director, “The Year of the Composer.” In addition to her acclaimed interpretations of the standard repertory, Marin Alsop’s commitment to living composers and new music has made her one of the most sought-after guest conductors in the world. The 2007-2008 season features a unique pairing of Beethoven symphonies with today’s leading contemporary voices, including distinguished composers John Adams, John Corigliano, Thomas Adès and Joan Tower. A new audience-enrichment program, “Composers in Conversation,” also launched this season, gives audiences uncommon access to the creative process of music through advance intimate conversations with the composer and Marin Alsop. The remainder of the Mellon Foundation funding will support yet-to-be announced audience development initiatives in the 2008-2009 season.
BSO President & CEO Paul Meecham noted that “a secure bottom line has set the stage for a prosperous tenure with new Music Director Marin Alsop. In a remarkably short period of time, fiscal stability has been restored and the community’s interest in symphonic music and the BSO reignited thanks to the implementation of stricter fiscal policies, improved marketing efforts and the strong appeal of conductor Marin Alsop. The generous support from the Mellon Foundation is an affirmation of the progress the Orchestra has made and a clear sign that we are moving in the right direction artistically and financially.”
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Performing Arts Program provides grants on an invitation-only basis to leading orchestras, theater companies, opera companies, modern dance companies and dance-specific presenters based in the United States. The Foundation seeks to support institutions that contribute to the preservation and development of their art form, provide creative leadership in solving problems or addressing issues unique to the field, and which present the highest level of institutional performance. Grants are awarded on the basis of artistic merit and leadership in the field, and concentrate on achieving long-term results.
About the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is internationally recognized as having achieved a preeminent place among the world's most important orchestras. Acclaimed for its uncompromising pursuit of artistic excellence, the Baltimore Symphony has attracted a devoted national and international following while maintaining deep bonds throughout Maryland through innovative education and community outreach initiatives.
The BSO made musical history at the start of the 2007-2008 season, when Maestra Marin Alsop led her inaugural concerts as the Orchestra’s 12th music director, making her the first woman to head a major American orchestra. Maestra Alsop’s arrival marks the dawn of a new era for the BSO, as she brings her highly praised artistic vision, her dynamic musicianship and her commitment to accessibility in classical music to BSO audiences.