“Richard Early isn’t ready to cue the requiem,” writes Lynn Hicks in Sunday’s (2/21) Des Moines Register (Iowa). “The executive director of the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra knows the future for symphony orchestras sounds dire. Orchestras nationwide face deep deficits because of shrinking audiences, donations and endowments. … But the lanky trombonist and former high school music teacher has reason to be upbeat. He came to Des Moines about 18 months ago and has had almost immediate results: In 2009, the symphony attendance increased 20 percent, 78 percent of its ticket subscribers renewed, and single ticket sales rose 36 percent compared with 2008. While Joseph Giunta conducts from the podium, Early directs behind the scenes, balancing artistic ambitions with financial realities. … Led by corporations pulling back, overall contributions fell almost 27 percent in 2009, leaving the symphony with a $344,376 deficit, according to the group’s financial statements. In the last 18 months, its endowment has fallen nearly $1.4 million as investments plunged in value. … A little more than halfway through the 2009-10 season, Early said he might not be able to eliminate the deficit, but he believed he can reduce it. Ticket sales are trending 10 percent higher than the previous year, and the symphony is attracting new donors.”

Posted February 22, 2010