Elgin Symphony faces new challenges for municipal funding

Posted on: August 13, 2013

In Monday’s (8/12) Daily Herald (Elgin, Ill.), Elena Ferrarin reports on municipal funding patterns at a variety of Illinois orchestras. The Elgin Symphony Orchestra, she writes, “is unusual among its suburban counterparts because it received direct funding from the city of Elgin—an average of $125,000 yearly from the city’s share of Grand Victoria casino revenues—until recently.… Last month, the [Elgin city] council voted to move forward with a plan requiring the ESO to apply for grant funding through the city’s cultural arts commission—which currently provides up to $8,500 per organization—rather than resume the practice of direct funding that ended in 2011. The 68-member ESO, which has a current annual budget of $2.3 million, is the largest professional orchestra in the suburbs and the second-largest in Illinois after the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, [Illinois Council of Orchestras President Alan] Dennis said.… ESO also has a unique relationship with Elgin because it is the most frequent tenant of the city-owned Hemmens Cultural Center.… The symphony stopped receiving direct funding from Elgin in 2011 after the city determined riverboat money would instead go to human services nonprofits through a grant process. The orchestra, in turn, decided to stop paying rent for the Hemmens. ESO now owes Elgin at least $304,000, city officials say, and the parties have been working on debt resolution.” 

Posted August 13, 2013