According to orchestra chairman David Maloney, the surplus can be attributed to an increase in sponsorship as well as in bequests—such as last year's gift of A$59,000—from its aging subscribers.
Maloney said he thought that bequests might, in future, make up more of the orchestra's income than corporate donations because of "tighter corporate governance rules." "Company directors," he said, "feel more restricted in the way they use company funds, that they shouldn't be doing anything that doesn't have an immediate return for shareholders."
What doesn't figure largely in the orchestra's budget is government funding. "We get the lowest level of funding of any of the orchestras [in Australia]," Maloney said, "about 43 percent compared with 80 percent in Tasmania."
One of the ramifications of the surplus may be the resurrection of the orchestra's education program, cut a few years ago, which Maloney called "the long-term salvation of the orchestra."
The good financial news also includes increased ticket sales. The orchestra's programming, under new music director Gianluigi Gelmetti, has been deemed a success, with Gelmetti's first concert with the orchestra winning a 2004 Helpmann Award in the best classical-concert category.
"Gianluigi is interested in the total program," Maloney said. "[H]e is very much more hands-on [than his predecessor Edo de Waart]. He's also very conscious of the need to program what the audiences want to hear."