In Monday’s (9/21) Baltimore Sun, Tim Smith writes that last season, when the recession first hit, “the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra kept its head above water—and not just financially.” During the downturn, “a remarkable level of cooperation [has] prevailed, enabling both sides to make substantial sacrifices as the recession took its toll. In January, Paul Meecham, president and chief executive officer of the BSO, announced $1 million in cuts on the administrative side, including layoffs and furloughs, to try to make up for sagging ticket sales and donations. Meecham knew that a sizable deficit loomed ahead. The musicians knew, too. … The result was ‘Music Matters,’ a voluntary concession by the musicians on wages and benefits totaling $1 million and a challenge to the community to match that giveback, two-to-one, in new or increased gifts. As of this month, $1 million has been raised through this initiative, including $50,000 from [Music Director Marin] Alsop. In July, the players accepted another $1 million in concessions, wiping out raises and other gains they had expected as part of a three-year contract settled in August 2008. … The annual budget for this season has been reduced to $24.7 million, down by $3.7 million. Still, the BSO, which kicked off the new season Sept. 12 with a gala concert that raised $800,000 and launches the 2009-2010 subscription series on Thursday, remains structurally sound.”

Posted September 22, 2009