DSO in black for 2nd straight year
The big news at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's annual meeting Thursday was that Music Director Leonard Slatkin and President and CEO Anne Parsons have both renewed their contracts through the 2016-2017 season.
Combined with the musicians' contract settlement reached in January — eight months early — the once-beleaguered, now-robust orchestra can look forward to several more seasons of blessed stability.
Those weren't the only good tidings.
As if reluctant to puncture the good feeling following the city's successful exit from bankruptcy, the DSO reported encouraging numbers across virtually all categories.
For the second year in a row, the DSO wound up in the black, this time with a small surplus of $60,000. (The 2013 balanced budget was the first since 2007.)
And more people flocked to the Max M. Fisher Center. Subscriptions increased across all series to 13,760, and overall ticket sales — including individual tickets — netted an additional $200,000 over last year.
"The most important thing in 2014 is that audience and donor base for the symphony grew another year," said Executive Vice President Paul Hogle, "and that resulted in the balanced budget."
Given the miserable environment for orchestras nationwide, the subscriptions boost is particularly encouraging, Hogle added. "It's extremely unusual," he said. "We're among a rare group of orchestras that's continued to grow a subscription base."
It's a judgment confirmed by the head of the national League of American Orchestras.
"Most performing arts nonprofits are experiencing shifts from subscriptions to single-ticket purchasing," said League President and CEO Jesse Rosen. "This is yet another sign of important progress for the DSO."
And thanks to its pioneering Live from Orchestra Hall webcasts, the DSO last season reached an international audience of 500,000 — more than any orchestra in the world. And its educational webcasts and curricular materials went out to 20,566 Detroit schoolkids.
That will grow.
Next year, thanks to an as-yet-undisclosed seven-digit donation by Clyde and Helen Wu, the program also will penetrate the seven suburban communities served by the orchestra's Neighborhood Concert Series. Henceforth, all educational programs, including the Civic Youth Ensembles, will be known as the Wu Family Academy for Learning and Engagement.
Giving also got a boost. For the third year in a row, the number of individual donors increased, from 6,569 to 7,227, contributing $5.4 million.
Overall donations — which include corporate, foundation, endowment and other giving — hit $17.06 million. That's a little under last year's $18.7 million but still about $5 million above 2012's take.
Corporations ponied up $1.8 million, while foundations gave $3.4 million. Both, however, were down from last year's $2.1 million and $3.8 million, respectively.
"The decrease was driven by a small handful of reductions," Hogle said. "With the strong results we already have for the new year, we do not believe this is a trend but a single-year outlier."
There was good news as well on the endowment front. Market appreciation and new gifts added $10 million — four times last year's — for a total of $38.6 million.
Finally, in a gracious nod to his help crafting the city's exit from bankruptcy with the grand bargain, Judge Gerald Rosen was voted onto the orchestra's board of directors for a one-year term.