$1.2 million donation to musician compensation at Pittsburgh Symphony a “welcome surprise”

Posted on: July 12, 2013

In Thursday’s (7/11) Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Mark Kanny writes, “The $1.2 million gift to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra by Michele and Pat Atkins, announced July 8, was as surprising as it was welcome. The gift was restricted to supporting musicians’ compensation at a time when the symphony’s deficit has increased to nearly $3 million on a stagnant $31 million budget. … The Atkins said they were moved to make their gift to the Pittsburgh Symphony by admiration for musicians’ generosity and to help maintain the symphony as a world-class orchestra. The musicians donated $100,000 back to the symphony to help with the bottom line in 2011 and 2012, seasons in which they took a 10 percent pay cut.” League of American Orchestras President and CEO Jesse Rosen commented, “ ‘Orchestras are responding with a lot of adaptation and change at a level I haven’t seen before. It’s all really healthy, but it will take a while for things to shake out. … [there’s] a very high degree of experimentation in just about every dimension.’ He pointed to the Pittsburgh Symphony’s recent Music for the Spirit as serving a universal theme, and symphony violinist Penny Brill’s wellness work … The Atkins’ gift demonstrates that people who are already giving generously to the orchestra may give more for specific purposes. A special gift to support musicians’ pay is extremely uncommon if not unprecedented, although the chairs of some individual musicians and conductors are endowed.”

Posted July 12, 2013