Philadelphia's Kimmel Center Balances Budget for the First Time

Classic Arts News   Philadelphia's Kimmel Center Balances Budget for the First Time
The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia today announced a balanced budget — its first. It reported an operating surplus for the 2005-06 season (results subject to audit) of $1.2 million.

This is a turnaround for the complex, which opened on deadline in December 2001 before construction was either finished or paid for and has until now run deficits every year since. $27 million of debt remains from the building phase, and, as Kimmel Center chairman William Hankowsky observed to The Philadelphia Inquirer, an arts center of the Kimmel's size and scope should have an endowment of at least $60 million to $70 million.

What's more, as the Inquirer points out, this year's surplus results from two atypical circumstances: revenue from the runs of two very lucrative Broadway musicals, Wicked and The Lion King, and the out-of-court settlement of a lawsuit the Kimmel filed against its architect, Rafael Viê±oly, last November. The newspaper estimates that the settlement paid out about $2 million, and Hankowsky confirmed that without it the Kimmel would have run a deficit of about $1 million.

There remain plenty of challenges for the future, according to the Inquirer: about $65 million needs to be raised for the endowment and construction debt; new rental agreements with six of the Kimmel's resident companies must be negotiated and signed; the center's large concert venue, Verizon Hall, requires further adjustments to its acoustics.

Yet the financial trend seems to be going in the right direction. According to The Washington Post, the Kimmel raised $7.5 million toward its endowment in the past season, reaching a total of $32.5 million, halfway toward a $65 million goal. The complex currently expects a small surplus of about $412,000 for 2006-07.

As a legal and operating entity, Kimmel Center Inc., includes two facilities. The Kimmel Center building, designed by Viê±oly, includes a large concert venue (Verizon Hall) and a recital space (Perelman Hall) which serve as the home of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Peter Nero and the Philly Pops and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society. The grand old Academy of Music has returned to its original purpose as an opera/ballet house and is now home to the modern-dance company PHILADANCO, Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Ballet.

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