Mark A. Davidoff, Michigan managing partner for the consulting firm Deloitte LLP, has been named the new board chairman of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Outgoing DSO Chairman Phillip Wm. Fisher made the announcement at the orchestra’s annual meeting Thursday, an event buoyed by the once-troubled institution’s third budget surplus in a row.
“I’ve known Mark for over 30 years,” Fisher said. “His experience and skill set are perfect for the organization right now.”
Those skills include deep roots in nonprofit finance and administration, with stints before Davidoff joined Deloitte at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit as chief financial officer and then executive director and chief operating officer.
Davidoff’s had a busy year. He also chaired the 2015 Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference, and serves on the boards of M-1 Rail, the Detroit Institute of Arts and United Way for Southeast Michigan, among others.
Crain’s Detroit Business named him one of the year’s “most-connected” people.
The Wayne State University graduate, who joined the DSO board four years ago, takes over an organization whose vital signs have improved dramatically — some would say miraculously — from their low during the 2010-2011 strike.
Davidoff said he aims to continue his predecessor’s record of accomplishment, including “the march toward financial sustainability. “We’ve had three years of balanced budgets,” he added, “and are working diligently to meet our 10-year blueprint” — a document Davidoff helped design.
Total DSO revenue for the year was $27.73 million, up from $27.58 million in 2014. Expenses were $27.7 million, yielding a budget surplus of $30,000.
Ticket revenue for 2015 came in at $6.2 million, about $250,000 — or 4 percent — under 2014’s $6.45 million. Orchestra marketing officials attribute the shortfall to an unusually good 2014 when the orchestra was able to charge considerably more than its usual for celebrity performances by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Lang Lang, both of which sold out.
Balancing that, however, $17.42 million in 2015 contributions exceeded projections and beat the previous year by $360,000. But the orchestra’s small endowment shrank from $38.6 million to $36.6 million, mostly the result of market losses in funds controlled by third parties, not the DSO. (The part the orchestra administers, somewhat less than half the total, grew by $400,000.)
Subscription sales jumped across every product line, both in revenue and numbers of households subscribing. Classical subscriptions added nearly 300 households. Eight auditions over the past year drew 892 applicants from across the globe, while the DSO’s Live from Orchestra Hall webcasts extended the the orchestra’s reach to a global audience of 600,000.
Little of this would have been likely without the rapid recovery from the bitterness associated with the 2010-2011 strike. Davidoff, like many in the community, tipped his hat to Fisher’s work as chairman.
“Phillip really fostered a culture of ‘One DSO,’ ” he said, “whether you’re talking board, management, musicians, donors or patrons. Everybody has a very clear vision where we’re headed. You can feel it. It’s palpable.”