The bad financial news comes as something of a surprise after a year of artistic milestones, including the orchestra's first Carnegie Hall performances in 16 years, broadcasts on National Public Radio, and new contracts for music director JoAnn Falletta and principal pops conductor Marvin Hamlisch.
"The BPO achieved a number of artistic goals in the last year and made significant progress in major strategic initiatives, but we face many of the same revenue challenges sadly shared by arts organizations around the country," said Angelo Fatta, chairman of the orchestra's board.
The organization cites a downturn in fundraising and ticket sales, as well as increases in costs for performance and health insurance, as the reasons for the deficit. A one-time real-estate write-off also contributed to the loss.
According to the Buffalo News, the orchestra could be further handicapped if the 2005 budget proposed by Erie County executive Joel A. Giambra is passed. The budget cancels all cultural funding, including the orchestra's $710,000 subsidy.
"Expenses are firmly under control," Daniel Hart, the BPO's new executive director, said in a statement, "and select areas of revenue have increased, but we are clearly in an uphill battle. We have made steady progress in closing another projected shortfall for the sesason, but the possible loss of significant funding from Erie County presents an entirely new set of problems."
Hart continued, "It is a testament to the orchestra that in this difficult time, they continue to present outstanding concerts week in and week out."