Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Achieves Balanced Budget for Fiscal Year 2010
Music Director Marin Alsop makes $100,000 in-kind donation to Music Matters challenge
Baltimore, Md. (January 19, 2011) -The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra today announced a balanced budget for the fiscal year ending August 31, 2010 (2009-2010 concert season), posting an operating surplus of $4,116, before non-cash pension-related charges. The BSO credits the public's growing awareness of its innovative artistic programming, increased community outreach efforts, and the Music Matters campaign, inspired by the BSO musicians' salary and benefits givebacks, as the catalyst for new and increased giving that helped achieve a balanced budget. FY2010 marked the first time in its history that the Orchestra received more than 10,000 contributions. The BSO has balanced its budget for three out of the past four years and projects sustainable operations moving forward. Crucially, BSO Music Director Marin Alsop has generously provided $100,000 of in-kind support by donating back to the BSO her fees for a series of performances during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 seasons.
The positive financial outcome for FY2010, a period that was deeply impacted by the economic downturn, is the result of several factors. In addition to increased annual fund support, the BSO contained costs through painful, but necessary cutbacks in administrative and musician expenses, reducing its budget by 13% to $24.3 million in order to maintain the BSO as one of only seventeen 52-week orchestras in America. Significantly, BSO musicians voluntarily offered $1 million in pay and benefit cuts as a match to inspire $2 million in new or increased gifts in a campaign called Music Matters. In support of that challenge, Music Director Marin Alsop responded by donating $50,000 of her gift to Music Matters.
The BSO enjoyed several artistic and institutional successes in the 2009-2010 season. In February 2010, more than 400 amateur musicians joined the Orchestra and Marin Alsop onstage at the Music Center at Strathmore for the first "Rusty Musicians with the BSO" event. This very successful community outreach event, in which participants performed side-by-side with BSO musicians conducted by Marin Alsop, spawned a week-long summer camp for adult amateur musicians called the BSO Academy, held in June 2010 and supported in part by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. OrchKids-the BSO's music and enrichment program for youth in West Baltimore-completed its second full year, serving more than 150 students with group and private music lessons, academic tutoring and healthy meals. The program garnered national media attention on 60 Minutes and National Public Radio and received a $1 million gift
from Baltimore philanthropists Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker to enable the program to expand over four years. The BSO continues to develop its prolific discography under Marin Alsop: the BSO's recording of its 2008 production of Leonard Bernstein's Mass received a Grammy Award nomination in 2009, and in June 2010, the BSO released a recording of Dvořák's Symphony Nos. 7 and 8, the second disc in the BSO's now-completed three-disc Dvorák symphony cycle.
"Thanks to an institution- and community-wide effort, the BSO had another successful year, both artistically and financially," said BSO Board Chair Michael Bronfein. "The public is clearly energized by the excitement and artistic excellence of the partnership between Marin Alsop and the orchestra, and is demonstrating their satisfaction with a record-breaking number of contributions. There is now a strong foundation to allow the BSO to sustain its forward-looking vision, increase its relevance within the community, and enhance the overall patron experience."
BSO President and CEO Paul Meecham adds, "I believe that our broader donor base was inspired both by the musicians' giving, and by the increased relevance of our programming, including new initiatives like Rusty Musicians, BSO Academy and OrchKids. Now that we have stabilized our course, we can focus on building on these successes to ensure the preservation and growth of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as one of the region's cultural jewels."
"I consider it a privilege to lead an Orchestra that is united in its commitment to create great music," says BSO Music Director Marin Alsop. "I am proud to stand with them and offer my support in every way possible. It is truly a team effort that enables us to create the best concert experiences for our audiences."
About the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
The Grammy Award-winning Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is internationally recognized as having achieved a preeminent place among the world's most important orchestras. Acclaimed for its enduring pursuit of artistic excellence, the BSO has attracted a devoted national and international following while maintaining deep bonds throughout Maryland with innovative education and community outreach initiatives.
The BSO made musical history in September 2007, 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. With her highly praised artistic vision, her dynamic musicianship and her commitment to accessibility in classical music, Maestra Alsop's leadership has ushered in a new era for the BSO and its audiences.
Under Music Director Marin Alsop's leadership, the BSO has rapidly added several critically acclaimed albums to its already impressive discography. The BSO recently released Dvorák's Symphonies Nos. 6, 7 and 8, the final two discs in its three-disc Dvorák cycle. In August 2009, the BSO and Marin Alsop released Bernstein's Mass featuring baritone Jubilant Sykes, the Morgan State University Choir and the Peabody Children's Chorus. The album rose to number six on the Classical Billboard Charts and received a 2009 Grammy nomination for Best Classical Album. The Orchestra made its foray into online distribution in April 2007 with the release of a live-concert recording of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring on iTunes, which quickly become the site's number one classical music download.
In addition to the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, where the orchestra has performed for 28 years, the BSO is a founding partner and the resident orchestra at the new state-of-the-art Music Center at Strathmore, just outside Washington, D.C. With the opening of Strathmore in February 2005, the BSO became the nation's only major orchestra with year-round venues in two metropolitan areas.