Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s fiscal 2021: lower revenue but increased contributions result in surplus

Posted on: November 5, 2021

“During the most recent period, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra generated only $316,000 in ticket revenue, compared with the year-earlier’s $12.5 million because 194 events were canceled and only 12 concerts staged,” writes Steven R. Strahler in Wednesday’s (11/3) Crain’s Chicago Business (subscription required). “But contributions and other support, minus fundraising expenses, totaled nearly $40 million, as the symphony’s loyal and in many cases deep-pocketed fans rallied. Operating expenses, also reduced by salary cuts and furloughs, fell by nearly half, from $67.4 million to $38.5 million. Total support, which includes gifts from endowment funds and estate bequests, rose almost 20%, to $53.2 million. While squeezing expenses, the CSO was able to maintain donor enthusiasm that included forgoing refunds of tickets to canceled performances. Among nearly 10,000 donors during the period, 2,240 were new ones. Pay cuts of 5% to 30% that CSO staff took in spring 2020 were reduced by half on July 1, 2021. Orchestra members’ pay, including that of Music Director Riccardo Muti, was initially trimmed by 20% and then, in September 2020, by 40%. Since July 1, the musicians have been receiving 85% of their pay.” The results cover the fiscal period July 1, 2020-June 30, 2021.