Could Columbus Symphony’s new partnership serve as model for others?

Posted on: September 20, 2010

Last week, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra announced that it finished the 2009-10 fiscal year with a balanced budget, after previously projecting as much as a $1.5 million deficit. One reason for the financial turnaround, writes Jeffrey Sheban in Sunday’s (9/19) Columbus Dispatch (Ohio), is that “The Columbus Association for the Performing Arts—traditionally an owner and operator of performance spaces, including the Ohio and Palace theaters—is increasingly keeping other arts organizations up and running. … In addition to owning or managing 10 theaters in Columbus; Toledo; and New Haven, Conn., CAPA provides ‘back-office’ functions such as budgeting, accounting, fundraising, advertising and ticketing for CATCO and its Phoenix Theatre for Children as well as the Franklin Park Conservatory, Opera Columbus, the Lincoln Theatre Association and most recently the Columbus Symphony. … Joining forces with CAPA in April saved the symphony more than $500,000 in personnel and operating expenses, helping to rescue the city’s largest performing-arts group from near-certain insolvency. … The Portland Symphony Orchestra in Maine shares office space, supplies and a ticketing system with a CAPA-like group but retains control of its fundraising efforts. ‘In order to inspire people to support an organization, they have to have a relationship with it,’ said Alice Kornhauser, a spokeswoman for the Portland group. … CAPA’s expanded role is generating interest nationally. ‘Performing-arts leaders are always on the lookout for creative, entrepreneurial ways to achieve cost reductions and greater efficiency,’ said Jesse Rosen, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras. ‘If the CAPA-Columbus Symphony partnership is successful, it would be an attractive model that other organizations might follow.’ ”

Posted September 20, 2010