Pittsburgh Symphony’s Melia Tourangeau on leading during tough times

Posted on: May 27, 2022

“When Melia Tourangeau became the president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 2015, the organization was still aggressively responding to the 2008 recession,” writes Laurie Bailey in Wednesday’s (5/25) Pittsburgh Business Times (PA). “ ‘A big priority was to do a new 5-year financial plan and strategic plan,’ Tourangeau said… She built a new leadership team and reconstituted board leadership. Her new plan involved a combination of sacrifices on everyone’s part…. The PSO went from having a $1.4 million accrual budget deficit in 2015 to two accrual surplus years in 2018 and 2019…. ‘We were really positioned well … prepandemic,’ she said.… In 2020 the organization had to [cut] its budget by 30%, with the musicians also volunteering a 30% pay cut. With a ‘we’re all in it together’ attitude, Tourangeau maintained constant communication with the board, the orchestra committee, industry colleagues and more. Federal relief packages, the Paycheck Protection Program, the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant and more provided ‘breathing room.’ … The experience intensified the value of togetherness, especially for the musicians…. ‘Last September (in Heinz Hall) when we were able to come back with an audience, it was the most emotional day I think I’ve ever experienced,’ she said.”