The Minnesota Orchestra will report a balanced budget for FY 2015.
I’ve got one phrase for this:
Some excerpts from the press release, accompanied by reaction gifs.
The Fiscal 2015 budget of $30.6 million is balanced
The Orchestra’s annual endowment contribution was based on a 5 percent draw for operations
“The spirit of engagement and collaboration we are feeling within the organization has clearly also been sensed by donors, who have been eager to support the Orchestra at every turn.”
In total, 7,105 unique donors contributed to the Orchestra, an increase of nearly 30 percent over the previous year.
“We made the strategic decision this year to eliminate from our books approximately $9.5 million in debt that dates to the early 2000s,” said Smith. “It has been a long held goal to pay this off and now we are clear of it.”
Clarinetist Tim Zavadil said, “The musicians are absolutely thrilled with the news of this year’s balanced operating result, and we are incredibly grateful to our board, staff, supporters and community for this achievement. Under the leadership of Warren Mack and Kevin Smith, the Orchestra has laid the foundation for a strong financial future. We now look forward to a strong musical future, continuing our work with Osmo Vänskä, and serving our community.”
I’m sure there will be asterisks to the final report. I’d like to see an increase in capacity, for instance. And hopefully that’s coming. But in general, hot damn, y’all. We can’t solve all the world’s problems in one season, and hopefully none of us were hoping to.
I want to be sentimental and take a second to give credit where credit is due… Namely, to:
The musicians. You swam through hell. And it was one of the great privileges of my life so far to watch you do it. You had grit, determination, grace, and a fabulous sense of humor. I think you’ve finally gotten to the other side. So many of you could have decamped to other cities, to other ensembles. So many of you didn’t. Indeed, you not only stayed; you anchored yourselves even more resolutely into this community, and you convinced some great new players to join you (a huge welcome to Susie Park and Rui Du). We owe you. We love you. You keep in touch with us, and let us know when you need anything. Don’t let yourself grow insular.
The people of Minnesota. When each new orchestral labor dispute pops up, I feel disoriented. I feel disoriented because I take it for granted that every community must care as much as you did, must be as well-organized as you were. But that’s not always true. There was a team of community members who made extraordinary sacrifices of time, sweat, tears, and energy to make sure Minnesota wouldn’t be saddled with a dispirited second-rate musical ensemble. You know who you are. You know I know who you are, and that I’m talking about you. Thank you.
Osmo. The New York Times was clearly skeptical at your decision to return to the Minnesota Orchestra. You mentioned in one interview that some of your friends thought you were crazy. But you saw hope in the chaos, and I think history will judge that you made the right choice. Thank you.
Kevin Smith and board leadership. You guys inherited a Titanic steering straight toward an iceberg, and somehow you turned the ship. There’s still an ice field ahead (every orchestra is always navigating one), but you guys turned the ship in time to avoid a tragic ending that, two years ago, seemed so depressingly predestined.
A special thank-you to Kevin Smith especially for so many things. For being accessible. For being personable. For being smart. For understanding how orchestras and operas work. But most of all, for his vision. I think Kevin Smith’s vision will be the thing we’ll remember most about his tenure. I can’t wait to see where that vision brings this organization next.
The music. Because the music is why we’re all here. It wasn’t for the drama of the power struggles, or the fun of combing 990s, or, indeed, the shape of the organization’s bottom line. We’re here because at some point in our lives, we were dazzled by the magic of orchestral music played at the highest level. One day, the charisma of this particular ensemble bewitched each and every once of us. Accordingly, this is a great time to remember: a balanced budget without The Art – the maddeningly seductive, impossibly punishing, achingly evocative capital-A Art – at the center means nothing compared to this.
So let’s make this season the best yet. Let’s make ourselves dizzy with communal achievement. Let’s work to make the lockout the start of something beautiful and lasting. Let’s embark on an era of stability, institutional honesty, and artistic and fiscal and emotional strength and growth. Let’s aspire to be a beacon to every other struggling orchestra. Let’s prove that wildest dreams can come true, as long as the dreamers possess grit, decency, elbow grease, and a little bit of luck.