Cleveland Orchestra Begins Building Audiences and Institutions Away From Home

Classic Arts News   Cleveland Orchestra Begins Building Audiences and Institutions Away From Home
The Cleveland Orchestra plans to increase its focus on fundraising and performing away from home, reports the Akron Beacon Journal.

To compensate for a sluggish local economy and declining population and corporate base in its own region of northeast Ohio, the orchestra will concentrate on three major outside markets: German-speaking central Europe, where music director Franz Welser-M‹st (a native of Austria and citizen of Liechtenstein) is highly regarded; Miami (where the orchestra begins a 10-year series of residencies at the new Carnival Center for the Performing Arts in January 2007); and New York and the U.S. East Coast, according to the Beacon Journal.

The Cleveland Orchestra will seek sponsors in those areas for such performances: it orchestra has hired a part-time employee in Vienna to fundraise and established a separate charitable foundation and board of directors in Miami.

To attract more attendees back home, the Cleveland Orchestra has updated its website and is introducing broader and more flexible programming options, increasing concerts with popular repertoire and reducing the number of nights offering more challenging fare, according to the paper.

The Cleveland Orchestra received some good news last week: the arrival of a $5 million donation from patron Norma Lerner. The gift was the leading contribution to a bridge fund supported by 12 corporations, foundations and individuals (not named by the Beacon Journal) to support the Cleveland Orchestra's Turnaround Plan, which aims to return the orchestra to financial health. With money from the bridge fund, the orchestra has erased its 2005-06 fiscal year deficit of $5.6 million on a budget of $39 million, according to the paper.

Gary Hanson, executive director of the Cleveland Orchestra, told the paper that he attributes the ensemble's financial woes to a small local population (relative to that supporting other major U.S. orchestras) and a sluggish local economy, even though per capita attendance and contributions are high.

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