Minnesota Orchestra Posts First Balanced Budget in Nine Years

Classic Arts News   Minnesota Orchestra Posts First Balanced Budget in Nine Years
After nine consecutive years of deficits, the Minnesota Orchestra broke even in the 2006-07 season, posting a $9,000 surplus on its $30.7 million budget. Administrators released the news on December 7, following last week's annual meeting of the Minnesota Orchestral Association (MAO), the not-for-profit entity that operates the orchestra.

The announcement comes a week after the Minnesota Orchestra announced the programming for its 2008-09 season.

This past season's balanced budget is the culmination of a three-year strategic plan adopted by the MAO board in 2004 to stabilize the organization's troubled finances. That plan included temporary salary freezes and reductions in expenses as well as increased fundraising and ticket sales.

"We've come a long way in these three years," said Paul Grangaard, the MOA's departing chairman, at the meeting, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "Our paid attendance is up, our contributions are up and our operating expenses are actually less than they were in 2003-04."

Revenue from Minnesota Orchestra ticket sales was up by $500,000 from the 2005-06 season, a 6.9% increase, and 72% of available tickets were sold. Approximately 404,000 people attended the orchestra's performances (paid and free) last season, an increase of 8% from the previous season. More than 80,000 individuals participated in the orchestra's education programs.

Annual fundraising totaled $13.6 million in 2006-07, and the value of the MOA's endowment rose by 11% during that season to $191 million, making it one of the largest endowments among U.S. orchestras.

Among the artistic highlights of 2006-07 cited in the MOA report were: the release of the third CD in the Minnesota Orchestra's Beethoven symphony cycle on the BIS label, a recording of the Symphony No. 9 that received a Grammy nomination last week; three semi-staged performances of Ibsen's play Peer Gynt with Grieg's complete incidental music and a cast of 17 actors and singers; two well-received concerts at Carnegie Hall in New York and a tour of Minnesota; the launch of a wildly popular free Sunday afternoon family concert series sponsored by Target; and the orchestra's first annual Future Classics concert, with music director Osmo Vänskä conducting music by the nine young American composers participating in the Minnesota Orchestra's annual Composers' Institute.

Other major developments of the past season at the Minnesota Orchestra included the departure of CEO Tony Woodcock to head New England Conservatory of Music, Doc Severinsen's final performances as the orchestra's principal pops conductor, the MOA board's approval of a $90 million plan to renovate Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, an unprecedented third consecutive Leonard Bernstein Award for Educational Programming from ASCAP, and the signature of a five-year contract between the MOA and its musicians, the longest in the orchestra's history.

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