Brian Wise covers the classical music business for WQXR, including aspects of performance, technology, philanthropy and institutional trends. He produces the Café Concerts series and the podcast/show Conducting Business. He manages the station's homepage and makes sure what you hear on air is what you see online. Follow him on Twitter at @Briancwise.
Financially Troubled Philadelphia Orchestra Announces Millions in Donations
Wednesday, June 22, 2011 - 09:10 PM
The Philadelphia Orchestra has been called the Rolls Royce of orchestras, but lately it has experienced more trials than a recalled subcompact.
The 111-year-old orchestra, which filed for bankruptcy protection in April, announced an aid package potentially worth $45 million on Wednesday. The funds could take a significant dent out of the orchestra’s five-year drive to raise $160 million and enable it to climb out of a deep financial crisis that threatens its existence.
The funding comprises only $11.2 million in outright gifts and pledges, with the promise of an extra $16.3 in matching grants if the orchestra raises an additional $17.5 million by the end of the year.
In a statement released Wednesday, the orchestra said that the $11.2 million came from a number of charitable organizations and philanthropists including the William Penn, Wyncote and Neubauer Family foundations, Gerry Lenfest and members of the orchestra’s board.
The announcement of the new funding comes just two months after the orchestra filed for bankruptcy, citing a $5 million deficit on a budget of $46 million. The orchestra blames the musicians' pension costs as well as skyrocketing rent at the Kimmel Center, the orchestra’s concert venue. As with many large American orchestras, Philadelphia has grappled with declining ticket sales and donations and a shrinking endowment over the last decade.
Even with the current pledges, the orchestra still has to raise another chunk of money in order to exit bankruptcy, the orchestra’s attorney told the Wall Street Journal. But if fundraising continues to improve, the orchestra hopes to file a plan that will enable it to exit bankruptcy by the end of the year. In the meantime, it’s also shopping around for a bankruptcy loan.
In 2012, Yannick Nézet-Séguin (below) will become the eighth music director to lead the Philadelphia Orchestra in its storied 111-year history.