The Houston Symphony adopted an ambitious five-year plan covering fiscal years 2011 through 2015 to strengthen its financial position. At its core, the plan focuses on the need to expand the Symphony’s audience and donor bases through strategies such as:
- introducing satellite concert series throughout Greater Houston
- investing in new concert formats and multi-media projects
- building stronger ties between patrons and the organization.
- the extraordinary generosity of the Symphony’s Board of Trustees who collectively doubled their annual contributions
- more than 1,200 donors who made made first-time gifts to the Annual Fund during a “Million Reasons to Give” campaign
For starters, orchestras' budgets vary greatly. The Houston Symphony's annual budget for fiscal year 2011 was $25 million. During the 2010-11 season, annual budgets of full-time orchestras ranged from $98 million for the Los Angeles Philharmonic to $6.5 million for the San Antonio Symphony.
"It costs money to make money."
Houston's fairly hefty budget allows for the above-mentioned satellite concert series throughout Greater Houston area as well as the multi-media projects. I'm sure that any beleaguered orchestra would be thrilled to incorporate such concerts, but how many can afford to?
Another orchestra which has recently heralded good news financially is the Colorado Symphony.
To explain the Colorado Symphony's standout success at the box office, symphony leaders point to:
- more accessible programming, especially the introduction of its multimedia Inside the Score series
- an overhaul of its marketing
- new investments in marketing and technology
- a new website
- a social media campaign
“We also conducted research to learn more about what young families in Denver desire in terms of family programming, as well as what educators need from our music education programs. The results include not only the new Inside the Score series, but across-the-board changes to everything we offer and how the Colorado Symphony does business on a daily basis.”
Fundraising and development also improved. The number of individuals donating to the Colorado Symphony’s Annual Fund has doubled in the last 18 months.