Orchestra Digest: December 17

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This week: Toronto Symphony deficit, New York Phil agreement, and other financial news - as well as advocacy campaigns, Bramwell Tovey's departure, and much more.
 
 
Financial news from far and wide
 
'Tis the season for orchestra financial reports: some naughty, others nice. In the latter category, the Detroit Symphony has reversed its course (and Detroit's) and stayed in the black, the New York Times reports. The Detroit Opera House, home to Michigan Opera Theatre, has been thriving as well, Hour Detroit Magazine reports.
 
The Cleveland Orchestra's latest financial report contains "virtually nothing but good news", the Plain Dealer reports. Revenues, attendance, and endowment all increased in fiscal 2013, and gifts to the Annual Fund topped $10 million. Another recent Plain Dealer article discusses The Cleveland Orchestra's strategic use of touring to build an international audience base.
 
The Toronto Symphony posted a $1.2 million deficit in the last fiscal year, the Toronto Star reportsThe National Post's Arthur Kaptainis also weighed the gloomy numbers. The TSO is in a search for a new CEO, and declining revenues will be of major concern for Andrew Shaw's successor. 
 
Milwaukee Symphony management and musicians reached a deal to reduce the orchestra's size through attrition, the Journal Sentinel reports. The MSO still needs to raise $5 million within the next two months to resolve an urgent cash flow crisis. 
 
In response, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board called on the community to step up: Love the MSO? Now is the time to show it. ICSOM Chair Bruce Ridge also made the case in a letter to the editor.
 
The Nashville Symphony received a welcome Christmas gift from singer Taylor Swift, Music Row reports. Swift donated $100,000 to the Symphony, which recently faced its own serious financial crisis. 
 
And the New York Philharmonic has reached a 4-year agreement, retroactive to September 2013, the New York Times reports. While neither side discussed specific terms, the agreement includes modest wage increases and maintains the current pension benefit levels for the first three years; the final year's pension terms are still to be negotiated. 
 
 
Adding up the numbers in Minnesota 
 
The Minnesota Orchestral Association (MOA) spent over $13 million in fiscal 2013, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. The MOA's revenues (mainly from contributions and investments) were $12 million, resulting in a deficit of $1.1 million. 
 
As the Board of the MOA prepared to meet this week, state legislators sent an open letter accusing several current and former Board officers of financial mismanagement, Minnesota Public Radio News reports. The letter called for CEO Michael Henson, Board Chair Jon Campbell, and Past Chair Richard Davis' resignations. 
 
Press commentators also lambasted the MOA, which spent $13 million in a year the orchestra did not perform. New Yorker classical music writer Alex Ross expressed amazement, while Polyphonic.org's Robert Levine reported on a "missed opportunity" to overturn the current leadership. 
 
Meanwhile, the locked-out musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra announced a 10-concert season, running January through May, titled "Music for Minnesota: A Season of Shining Stars", the Star Tribune reports.
 
The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra's latest financials were more favorable, though they also reflected big reductions in revenue. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports details behind the SPCO's $280,000 surplus for fiscal 2013.
 
 
Canadian orchestra news
 
Bramwell Tovey will step down as Vancouver Symphony music director at the end of the 2018 season, the Vancouver Sun reports. Tovey's departure also prompted a retrospective of Tovey's highlights with the VSO, an analysis of the VSO's plans for the future
 
The Regina Symphony celebrated a birthday last week - its 105th - and Executive Director Maxim Antoshin noted in a MetroNews interview that the RSO is Canada's oldest continuously running symphony orchestra, and a prime training-ground for world-class string players. 
 
The Canadian Opera Company announced a new opera commission by Rufus Wainwright, to premiere in 2018. The National Post reports that another Canadian opera, a 50th anniversary revival of Harry Somers' Louis Riel, may beat Wainwright's Hadrian to the COC's mainstage in 2017. 
 
Canadian violin soloist James Ehnes contributed a piece to The Huffington Post, In Defense of Violin Music. Ehnes argues that showpieces by Paganini, Wieniawski, Vieuxtemps, and Lalo, which are beloved by audiences, deserve more respect from programmers and critics. 
 
 
Advocacy
 
The Canadian Arts Coalition released an analysis of the federal budget from the perspective of the cultural sector. Titled "A Missed Opportunity", the report is available both in English and in French
 
The Canadian Arts Coalition is encouraging arts advocates to take part in Arts 308, in preparation for the next federal budget. The Coalition has three specific recommendations to promote to MPs, in person or using social media, along with tools and training videos to help you.
 
In the United States, creative industries, including Hollywood as well as the performing arts, account for $504 billion, or 3.2 percent of GDP, according to a new report from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts, reported in the Associated Press.
 
The International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM) is encouraging all unionized orchestral musicians to follow and promote their social media presences, both on Facebook and Twitter.
 
 
People in the news
 
Chicago Symphony President Deborah F. Rutter will take over as president of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post both report. Rutter will succeed Michael M. Kaiser, whose resignation is effective next August.
 
George Cohen, who directs the US Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), announced his resignation as of the end of this year, the Federal Times reports. Cohen's departure comes after four years directing the FMCS, and coincides with his 80th birthday.
 
 
Compiled by Matt Heller, Calgary Philharmonic and OCSM Past President. Sources include the discussion groups of ICSOM and ROPA. Visit OCSM online at: http://ocsm-omosc.org/index.php
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