Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Announces Extraordinary Gifts to Support Compelling and Sustainable Plan for the Future
Organization raises $6 million in operating funds as a bridge to a bright future, invites the community at large to join in the exciting work ahead
January 14, 2020 (Baltimore, MD) – The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) today announced that it has secured $6 million in extraordinary operating gifts as well as a $1.25 million endowment gift in the past month to ensure that it can move forward with the transformative, multi-year planning efforts currently underway. Funds will provide immediate cash flow and balance sheet relief as well as position the Orchestra to embark on a plan that will reinvigorate its programs and establish new levels of engagement with its audiences, the community and the state of Maryland.
These gifts, including a $2 million leadership gift, will enable the BSO to turn the corner towards sustainability. The BSO is exceptionally grateful for generous gifts from long-time friends, Board members and passionate community leaders from greater Baltimore and Montgomery County including Michael & Patricia Batza, Rick Berndt, Barbara & Thomas Bozzuto, George & Anne Bunting, Mary Catherine Bunting, Sandra Levi Gerstung, Patricia & Mark Joseph, Earl & Darielle Linehan, The Joseph and Harvey Meyerhoff Family Charitable Funds, Robert Meyerhoff & Rheda Becker, Judy & Scott Phares, Arnie & Alison Richman, Barry & Susan Rosen, Bruce Rosenblum & Lori Laitman, and George & Betsy Sherman, as well as others, as part of this effort.
Community leader Arnie Richman spoke about making a commitment now to help the organization move forward. “I can’t think of a more important cultural institution to our family and to Baltimore, it puts our city ‘on the map,’” said Richman. “So, with the BSO facing significant challenges and a turnaround underway, we were asked to step up and help in a significant way. We felt that helping in that way could become a catalyst for others. I wholeheartedly believe that the plans being developed by the BSO are entirely achievable and could not be more important to Baltimore and our State.”
This past September, the BSO established a Vision Committee, chaired by BSO Board Chairman Barry Rosen, made up of musicians, Board members, Endowment trustees, artistic leadership, volunteers and staff. In addition, the BSO engaged TDC, one of the nation’s oldest nonprofit consulting firms, to lead in-depth analytical work to help ensure a strong foundation and key insights as we look to the future. In November, former Senator Ed Kasemeyer, Chairman of the State Workgroup on the BSO, invited Michael Kaiser, the leading national consultant on turning around cultural organizations, to speak to the Workgroup. The BSO subsequently engaged Kaiser to help develop its multi-year plan.
“Our organization is coming together. Working with Michael Kaiser and other leaders, the efforts underway are among the most comprehensive and forward-thinking in our history, which in turn inspired this transformational philanthropy,” said BSO President and CEO Peter Kjome. “The BSO is pleased to share positive results across all levels of giving, including a 14% increase in total donor households over last year. We are grateful to the thousands of people that have already stepped forward with the BSO and our musicians. These commitments are inspirational to our community and the BSO family, and we are excited about the important work that lies ahead.”
“I’m thrilled about this significant progress,” said BSO Music Director Marin Alsop. “The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is a genuine treasure of our community, and this vital support assures that we will continue creating the highest level of music-making and educational programs together.”
BSO Board Chairman Barry Rosen stated: “We have turned a corner by developing a well-researched, exciting, balanced-budgeted, multi-year plan. These commitments provide a welcome boost of community confidence in the cultural and civic value of the Orchestra. I am grateful to the donors, as well as to the members of the Vision Committee and the State Workgroup – staff, musicians, board and community leaders – for their contributions to paving a new path forward,” said Rosen. “Clearly, we have positive momentum and passion on our side, but we must meet our successive annual goals if we are to be truly successful and leverage these extraordinary commitments.”
BSO Players Committee Chair Brian Prechtl said, “This is a watershed moment that will galvanize all of the BSO stakeholders. The musicians are incredibly excited for the bright future that lies before us. We invite the many supporters who have surrounded us to join in this visionary work that will preserve the BSO for generations to come.”
Audience growth, community engagement and outreach, and further multi-year philanthropic commitments will be critical to the Orchestra’s ability to fully implement new initiatives and make the exciting future a reality. The BSO will share more news of its plans and progress in the weeks ahead.