Embattled Philadelphia Orchestra Extends CEO's Contract

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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.