Embattled Philadelphia Orchestra Extends CEO's Contract

Thursday, March 01, 2012 - 02:06 PM

Philadelphia Orchestra Philadelphia Orchestra (Ryan Donnell)

The Philadelphia Orchestra's governing board has renewed the contract of president and CEO Alison Vulgamore for three years. Her salary is roughly comparable to what it was, $450,000 annually, but a list of benefits and perks makes it much higher in reality.

 Vulgamore arrived from the Atlanta Symphony in Jan. 2010 and was instrumental in the orchestra's decision to file for Ch. 11 bankruptcy in 2011, after determining that expenses, including the musicians' pension fund, presented an unsustainable burden. Her proposed contract is subject to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court's approval.

Lawyers for the Orchestra expect to file a plan of reorganization with a bankruptcy judge shortly, with an exit by early May.

During her time in Philadelphia, Vulgamore was in place for the hiring of a new music director, the young Canadian Yannick Nézet-Séguin; a fundraising drive that the orchestra estimates has yielded $21 million in gifts; the negotiation of a labor deal that included deep cuts in musicians' salaries; and an institutional split from the Philly Pops and conductor Peter Nero.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Vulgamore's salary and perks package includes a "performance-based compensation" cash bonus of between $50,000 and $150,000 per year, a retirement contribution of $125,000 and "executive health benefits" of up to $10,000 annually.

The Inquirer notes that Vulgamore's compensation puts her "about the middle of the pack" among her colleagues.

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Comments [1]

Greg from Connecticut

The Philadelphis Orchestra's problems are well documented. As someone who lived in the Philadelphia suburbs and attended concerts from Ormandy, to Muti, to Sawallisch, Eschenbach to Dutoit, they come down to this:

An entrenched Orchestra management unable to either manage the orchestra or commmunicate with its members or its patrons.

An orchestra management that caters to the elite and is unable to innovate. rush hour concerts? young people's nights? partnering with restuarants or other arts institutions? discount pricing? unheaard of.

the constant and unending battle between orchestra memebers and management. then the filing of a fraudulent chapter 11 petition to dump salary. as a result, several orchestra members are departing for other orchestras at the end of this season. see them this year if you ever want to hear the majesty of the "Philadelphia Sound" again.

No 24 hour classical station since 1990s WFLN. Instead a station with daytime classical mood music and jazz to placate the Temple University community.

A disfunctional mass transit system. Go to an 8 PM concert? Better drive becuse you will never catch that 11 PM train back to the suburbs. And no late night weekend service as is available in DC and metro NY.

So a new orchestra head cannot transform aa disfunctional orchstra body and mediocre city. It was a good run.

Mar. 01 2012 06:05 PM

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