Memphis Symphony seeks new, sustainable business model

Posted on: June 3, 2014

In Saturday’s (5/31) Memphis Daily News (Tennessee), Andy Meek writes, “This year has seen the Memphis Symphony Orchestra disclose and confront a variety of painful truths—its proximity to financial ruin, that its once robust reserves had evaporated and that its existing business model isn’t adequate for today’s reality, all while orchestra musicians turned hat in hand to the public via Kickstarter…. Businesses stepped up … and thanks to community support … plus a major turnaround underway inside the symphony organization, emergency measures have been able to put out the financial fire.… ‘You cannot innovate when the house is on fire,’ said board chair Gayle Rose. ‘We had to focus on emergency funding to get us through this year.’ … Next year … the core musicians will be compensated for 24 weeks. The season will still span 34 weeks, but [president and CEO Roland] Valliere said that change cuts the budget by 38 percent. ‘Basically, what we’ve done is reduced fixed costs,’ said Valliere. ‘We’ve now moved to a hybrid fixed cost structure. The critical question now is, what are we sustaining? Is it the orchestra as it exists? We want to deliver high-quality music service to Memphis, and that may entail a different structure, but that’s yet to be determined.’ ”

Posted June 3, 2014