Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Receives $1.5M from the State to Continue its Turnaround

Governor Larry Hogan Releases Year One of a Five-Year Financial Bridge

Baltimore (July 20, 2021): The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) announced today the receipt of $1.5M from the State of Maryland, the first year of a multi-year bridge of support appropriated to the Orchestra through the legislative actions of the Maryland General Assembly in 2020 and 2021.

Guided by the recommendations of the 2019 State Workgroup on the BSO, chaired by former Senator Ed Kasemeyer, SB1065/HB1658 outlined five-years of decreasing support: FY2022 $1.5M; FY2023 $1.3M; FY2024 $1.1M; FY2025 $0.9M; and FY2026 $0.7M. While enacted into law during Session 2021, Governor Hogan held total authority over the awarding of year one funding (FY2022).

In authorizing this expenditure, Governor Hogan affirmed his administration’s strong support for the arts and the State’s committed role as a partner in the BSO’s turnaround well underway. “Maryland is home to many cultural treasures, and investing in the arts has been a hallmark of my administration,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “The BSO has done the hard work, producing a plan and faithfully implementing it. At the same time, it has demonstrated great resilience, reaching more Marylanders than ever before when it mattered the most. The future of the BSO is bright, and the time was right for the State to implement its commitment.”

Funding provided above and beyond annual operating support received through the Maryland State Arts Council, the State’s five-year bridge is essential to both the BSO’s five-year strategic plan and historic collective bargaining agreement with the Orchestra’s musicians.

“The BSO came together in 2019 in an extraordinary way, and while our plans are bold the theme is simple, we cannot cut ourselves to health,” said BSO Board Chair Barry Rosen. “The BSO is on a course to energize the institution, to better reflect and serve our diverse community, and to grow audiences and revenues, but these plans require cost management, strategic investment, and time. The State’s multi-year bridge was designed to provide just that – turnaround capital and a runway to realize incremental change.”

Most recently, the BSO celebrated the historic tenure of outgoing Music Director Marin Alsop with a culminating broadcast on MPT that reached tens of thousands of households and launched a summer series featuring 14 free concerts across four regional venues. Beginning in September, the Orchestra will kick off its Season of Discovery marked by the return of full audiences; an expanded digital platform including the availability of live-streamed concerts; and, a multi-year, international Music Director search. Year one bridge funds are earmarked for the BSO’s Fiscal Year beginning September 1.

“The BSO is deeply indebted to generous friends who have seeded our transformation to-date, including our expansive outreach in response to the pandemic,” said BSO President and CEO Peter Kjome. “Thanks to the shared sacrifices of musicians and staff, the generosity of BSO patrons, and extraordinary pandemic relief funds, we anticipate ending the 2021 fiscal year in a financial position that will help us continue to serve the citizens of Maryland. With the Governor’s actions today, and the unwavering support of the Maryland General Assembly, including Senate President Ferguson, House Speaker Jones, Delegate McIntosh, and Senator Guzzone, the BSO has yet another reason to move forward with great resolve and confidence.”

The BSO’s Board-approved budget is $29.8M for FY2022. This is a budget reflecting a $2M deficit, inclusive of State bridge funds, in keeping with the organization’s five-year financial plan (achieving balanced budgets by FY2026). Last week, the BSO was notified of its successful receipt of a $1.5M Shuttered Venues Operating Grant (SVOG), funds that will also be applied to FY2022 and mitigate the budgeted deficit and earned revenue risk associated with the BSO’s emergence from the pandemic.