Saved at the Last Minute: Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Faces Down Bankruptcy, Meets Fundraising Goal

Classic Arts News   Saved at the Last Minute: Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Faces Down Bankruptcy, Meets Fundraising Goal
 
The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra has staved off bankruptcy by raising C$2.5 million in less than four weeks.

According to a report from The Record of Kitchener, Ontario, the KWS announced yesterday afternoon that it had raised C$2.3 million from more than 1,400 individuals, businesses and government entities. With pledges and donations still coming in, orchestra officials expect to reach, if not surpass, their goal of C$2.5 million by the end of today, the final day of its emergency fund drive.

On October 4, the KWS announced that it was running out of money and would need to raise C$2.5 million by the end of the month or be forced to shut down. The orchestra then launched a month-long fundraising campaign appealing to supporters, community leaders, local governments and provincial and Canadian federal arts bodies.

The adjacent cities of Waterloo and Kitchener and the government of Waterloo Region collectively made the largest pledge, of C$505,000 (contingent on the success of the drive as a whole).

"It's astonishing, it's amazing," KWS board chairman Bob Astley told The Record, "It's a huge relief."

The KWS has a budget of C$4.5 million and lost C$600,000 last year, bringing its accumulated deficit to C$1.2 million.

According to The Globe and Mail, the orchestra's financial crisis reportedly stemmed from an unexpected plunge in annual revenue, which stands at C$400,000 lower than it was five years ago; meanwhile, fundraising has barely increased and costs have risen. "It's a revenue problem, not an expense problem," KWS general manager Daniel Donaldson told the paper.

The Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony his been facing serious problems ever since Martin Fischer-Dieskau (son of legendary baritone Dietrich), appointed music director in 2001, was fired 18 months later in what was reported as a tug-of-war between an artistically ambitious conductor and a very frugal board of directors. Fischer-Dieskau's musical achievement's were highly regarded in the community, and the noisy turmoil surrounding his dismissal led to the departure of several board members and the loss of considerable audience good will. The KWS is still without a music director.


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