Symphony surpasses emergency fundraising goal

Anonymous donor puts contributions over the top

By Mary Ann Albright, Columbian Staff Reporter

Published:

Updated: June 24, 2011, 4:02 PM

 

The Vancouver Symphony can move forward with plans for a 33rd season after surpassing its emergency fundraising goal.

As of Friday, the nonprofit professional orchestra had brought in about $135,000, thanks in large part to an anonymous donation it received that day.

In early June, the symphony announced it needed to raise $100,000 by the end of the month, and that if it was unsuccessful, the future of the organization would be in jeopardy.

The symphony needed $100,000 to get through the summer and launch its 2011-2012 season, but even with that money, the group was anticipating having to have smaller concerts with fewer musicians and guest artists. The additional funds will give the organization some breathing room as it continues to develop a new, long-term financial strategy.

On Friday, Steve Hix, a symphony supporter heading up a temporary advisory committee working with the organization’s board, brought in $50,000 from an anonymous Portland donor who patronizes the Vancouver Symphony.

This donation, combined with money raised through two benefit concerts, a phonathon and support from the community and other major donors, pushed the symphony past its goal ahead of its deadline. The organization is working to continue bringing in donations, and a third benefit concert is being considered for the July 4 weekend.

“The community values our symphony. It’s why living here in Vancouver and Southwest Washington is unique. We have a first-rate symphony. Our maestro is world-renowned,” said Kathy McDonald, incoming Vancouver Symphony board chairwoman. The symphony adds to the quality of life here and keeps people from having to go to Portland for arts and culture opportunities; it even draws people from the other side of the river, she continued.

Dwindling corporate sponsorships, private donations, grants and proceeds from fundraising events have hurt the symphony in recent years. Ticket sales are up, but they cover only about 20 percent of the symphony’s budget, and the increase hasn’t been enough to offset declines in other revenue streams.

The Vancouver Symphony has expenses that many other local performing arts groups do not, because it pays its musicians, including its longtime conductor and music director Salvador Brotons, who lives in Barcelona, Spain, and guest conductors and performers.

The symphony saw total revenues of $511,053 in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, down from $526,363 the year prior and $568,372 in fiscal year 2007-2008. Many nonprofit groups have suffered since the recession, including other Clark County performing arts groups such as Christian Youth Theater Vancouver/Portland, the Camas Performing Arts Series and the former Arts Equity Onstage.

In order to bring expenses in line with revenues, the symphony eliminated its executive director and marketing director positions, effective July 1. The board is currently working with donors and concerned community members on a new business plan that will position the symphony to be sustainable going forward.

The list of community members who have made pledges or donated money to the symphony’s current campaign include notable businesspeople and philanthropists such as Hix and his wife, Jeannie; David and Patricia Nierenberg; and Jan and Steve Oliva.

“It just shows that the city and Clark County really want to have an orchestra here,” Steve Hix said. “We’re really thrilled.”

Mary Ann Albright: maryann.albright@columbian.com, 360-735-4507.

Update

• Previously: The nonprofit Vancouver Symphony announced in early June that it needed to raise $100,000 by the end of the month, or the future of the organization would be in jeopardy. Dwindling corporate sponsorships, private donations, grants and money brought in from fundraising events forced the symphony to make tough cuts, including eliminating its executive director and marketing director positions effective July 1.

• What’s new: Through two benefit concerts, a phonathon and outreach to the community and major donors, the symphony had raised about $135,000 as of Friday.

• What’s next: The symphony is planning for its 33rd annual season, and the board is working with an advisory committee on a new business plan. The symphony is still seeking donations and may organize a third benefit concert over the July 4 weekend.

How to help

People can donate money to the Vancouver Symphony:

• Through the symphony website (http://www.vancouversymphony.org);

• By phone (360-735-7278 to reach the symphony office);

• Or by sending a check to the Vancouver Symphony (P.O. Box 525, Vancouver, WA 98666).