Cash-strapped Philly Orchestra, Philly Pops split

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 06:02 PM

The Philadelphia Orchestra and Peter Nero and the Philly Pops have agreed to end their six-year business partnership, according to documents filed Monday in federal bankruptcy court.

The organizations merged operations in 2005 with the goals of streamlining administrative tasks and sharing financial operations and some staff, but the relationship was strained almost from the start.

The orchestra in recent months has called the Pops a financial drain, while the Pops has said it was not receiving an adequate share of advertising and marketing funds to promote its concerts and attendance suffered as a result. Nero's attorney, Paul Rosen, said after a bankruptcy court hearing in April that his client and the Pops were being treated like "an orphan stepchild."

Under terms of the agreement filed Monday, the Philadelphia Orchestra will pay $1.25 million to the Pops no later than June 30, the official separation date. The money will go toward the Pops' operations.

The orchestra and Nero and the Pops, in a joint statement released Monday, said they "leave this partnership with mutual respect and admiration for the incredible talent each organization brings to the city of Philadelphia and wishes each other success in all future endeavors."

"This agreement ... is important as it not only allows The Philadelphia Orchestra to take an important step toward achieving long-term financial stability, but also provides the necessary resources for planning and executing the upcoming season for Peter Nero and the Philly Pops," the organizations stated.

The development is the latest in the orchestra's ongoing efforts to reorganize its finances.

The 111-year-old Philadelphia Orchestra, among the world's most renowned symphonies and the ensemble behind the soundtrack to Walt Disney's 1940 film "Fantasia," stunned music lovers five months ago by becoming the first major U.S. orchestra to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It has struggled with dwindling attendance and donations, shrinking endowment income, high labor costs, the recession and an aging audience.

It also cited the high cost of rent at its home, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, as well as what it said was a drain from unprofitable Peter Nero and the Philly Pops concerts. A delay in announcing the 2011-2012 season this spring briefly caused concerns that the 32-year-old ensemble's season was being canceled, while Nero contended the organization turned a $300,000 profit and was not a money loser.

After June 30, the orchestra said it "will recognize the exclusivity of Peter Nero to promote, present, and conduct Peter Nero and the Philly Pops concerts and concert series for as long as he wishes to do so." -- JOANN LOVIGLI

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Comments [3]

Danny from the toilet

Maybe they should get into the movie scores orchestra business on the side. It's quite lucrative. I'm sure contractors would love that kind of thing. Mostly the Czech Philharmonic and the London symphony orchestra are the big ones with Hollywood having their own. Would be nice to then credited with some scores.

Sep. 22 2011 10:16 PM

Also, please update the photo of the Philadelphia Orchestra on stage in Verizon Hall. That large blank area above and behind the orchestra is now filled in with a fine pipe organ.

Sep. 22 2011 10:20 AM
Michael Meltzer

Previous blogs on this site dealing with popular music programming in classical concerts have come up with an awful lot of opinion that pop music programming can be a cure-all for classical financial ills.
"The grass is always greener." It would be in everyone's interest to learn more about what has been going on in Philadelphia, some in-depth exploration, perhaps by WQXR, of how this has deteriorated to where it is. The information might have broad application for the rest of us.
The Philadelphia Orchestra and Peter Nero are icons in their respective worlds. The above report is distressing.

Sep. 22 2011 12:29 AM

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